Monday, December 7, 2009

Blast From the Obits

For the past few years, I have acquired the habit of daily checking the obituaries in my hometown (Up North) newpaper's website. From time to time, people will show up there who I remember - people from the church my family belonged to, parents of my friends, old teachers/coaches, and increasingly in recent years, my friends and classmates. It's always a little bit jarring to see one of my classmates in the obits; we're in our mid-50s now, so collectively, we've got a few miles on us, so to speak, but we're not as old as all that, you know?

Even as far back as when I was in my 20s, though, I remember hearing about a guy who'd been my brother's best friend, and with whom I'd played many a game of backyard football, being killed in a drunk-driving accident. Another guy who I'd known since my grade-school days was run over by a car, just crossing the street on his lunch hour. It does remind you of how fragile, and how precious, human life is.

Whenever I see someone with whom I went to school in the obits, it always piques my curiosity a bit - what kind of life did they have? Did they die of a sudden, catastrophic illness or accident? Or did too much hard living catch up with them (I've known of a few of those, too)? What about their families - their spouses and children? Sometimes, I remember seeing them at a class reunion; sometimes not.

Just recently, as I was doing my regular Up North obit scan, I noticed a 54-year-old woman with the same last name as a guy I'd gone to school with, so I clicked on her name, to see if she might have been related to the guy I was thinking of. She might have been his sister, or possibly married to his brother, or something (and of course, just because she was my age and living in my old hometown, doesn't have to mean anything; people even move up there, from time to time).

But what I found made me sit back and stare at the screen, for a couple seconds. It was Bev, the girl I'd taken to the prom, and who'd left with another guy. It was a very odd sensation, and all the moreso because it was only a few months ago that I blogged about her. I sure don't remember her fondly; the brief interlude in which our paths crossed is mostly an occasion for rueful, or embarrassed, recollection, when I think of it at all. Heck, in describing the story of how she treated me at the prom, I said I wasn't really all that interested in what had become of her. And I really wasn't.

But now, I was finding out, for free, without having to look it up or anything. The obit mentioned her husband, who turned out to indeed be the brother of the guy I'd been thinking of. She had three kids, and her son had a different last name than her husband; in fact, he was 'junior', with the same name as another classmate of ours, who I'd known in passing. So she'd had at least two husbands, and had kids with a guy I remembered. Both her parents are still living, likely in their late 70s or 80s by now.

I'm hard-pressed to account for the odd emotional reaction it provoked in me to hear of her death. In the grand sweep of my life, she's really not all that significant, notwithstanding what happened around the prom. She was never my girlfriend, although for a couple weeks, way back when, I was fairly head-over-heels on her account. I didn't know her all that well before then (if I had, I might not have asked her to the prom), and I had even less to do with her afterward.

But you know, she might have been my First Kiss. I'm honestly not sure, but I can't think of any other likely candidates for the honor. It's a little sad, though, if she is. I'd like to think of my First Kiss fondly; not that she was a skank who cynically used me.

Not that it matters all that much by now, anyway. It is what it is. There's nothing to do about it, one way or the other. And may God have mercy. . .

7 comments:

Sailor said...

Odd feelings indeed, and for me- because I'm just that much younger than you, it hasn't happened to "My gang" yet, not something I look forward to.

But, as you say, it's past- and God's mercy for us all...

for a different kind of girl said...

It's an odd feeling to realize we've reached an age where we can lose friends and acquaintances now. That really came slamming head and heart-first to me this fall when we lost one of our dear, dear friends.

Cocotte said...

I read the obits too. In fact, I was thinking about writing a post about that a while ago because so many obits are actually amusing on some levels.

I did my Christmas cards yesterday and there were about 6 folks/addresses I had to erase because they passed away this year. That's a lot in one year.

flutterby said...

Encountering death always lays bare the stark truth of how limited life is, how limited our personhood is. How one's passing can affect some so profoundly -- spouse, lover, family, children, friends, etc. -- and yet how so many sit on the fringes of that life and are relatively untouched and even more are not ever aware that a soul's flame has been extinguished. And life goes on for everyone.

Desmond Jones said...

Sailor - God bless you if The Reaper hasn't touched 'your crew' yet; he will. I was tapped to give the invocation at our 10-year reunion, and they handed me a list with 12 names on it, of class members who had died. . .

faDKoG - I know; 50-something folks are not nearly as rare in the obits as I wish they were (speaking as one myself). I feel a bit like the guy in 'The Holy Grail' sometimes - "No, really; I feel fine. . ."

And there is no good answer when a close friend dies. It really comes home then, that we have to have been made for more than just our few decades on this rock. . .

Cocotte - It probably ain't gonna slow down, as you get older. . .

And hey - amusing obits; I'll be looking forward to that, over at your place. . . ;)

Flutter - I know. And I can tell you, as I sit here 53 years old, that 70 doesn't seem nearly as old as it once did. . .

And now I'm wondering, as well, if her recurring to my brain just a few months ago might have been 'purposeful' - if I was supposed to have prayed for her, rather than merely blogging about how she mistreated me once upon a time. . .

lime said...

indeed a very strange and disconcerting bit of news to stumble across.

Desmond Jones said...

Lime - 'Strange and disconcerting' captures it very well. . .