By Susan Dromey Heeter
I muse joyfully on reading a real, hard copy newspaper – a real paper with news print, pages to touch and turn, black ink.
And I muse joyfully on reading my favorite part: the Irish Sports pages, the obituaries.
I cherish a good obit, enjoy reading of lives, of people, of families, of histories. Certainly the obituary of a child is nothing upon which to muse joyfully and anyone who has been taken too soon is never cause for celebration.
But I muse joyfully that their lives, however long or short, have created moments to pause, moments to celebrate, moments to celebrate lives well lived whether long or truncated.
Obits, on occasion, make me laugh. I think of the woman whose obituary title read, “Member of Curves.” I wonder, did those writing of her life seriously believe that to being a “Member of Curves” was the highlight of her life?
If my children or husband write that I’m a Weight Watchers member, they are not only out of my will, I’ll come back to haunt them – forever. I promise.
I do enjoy the story of my friend’s dad, writing of his late wife. Mr. Ryan wrote a beautiful tribute, a lovely obituary celebrating her life of service, her glorious generosity toward the homeless, the opera communities, her alma mater, Elms College.
When Mr. Ryan’s children previewed the obit, they pointed out that he had neglected to mention she’d had eleven children. Eleven. Oops.
Mr. Ryan did include that after the fact – as well as mentioning her thirty plus grandchildren and great grandchildren. Some people have stellar obituaries.
Some are simple. Some are fun, some tragic. “Died suddenly” always stops me in my tracks, creates pause. I recently read about Robert P. Moncreiff, a Cambridge lawyer who lived to be a robust 87. My favorite part of his Globe obit was reading how his daughter, Jane, termed him “somebody who believed that making a difference mattered and doing the right thing mattered.”
He also read “The Hobbit” aloud to his family and met his wife in Austria on a trip to Innsbruck. Did I know Mr. Moncreiff? No, but I so enjoy reading of his life, the legacy of his time here on earth.
And that’s why I read the obits – not so much to compare who lived the best, the most productive life, but to muse joyfully on the subject’s time here on earth – to see where she or he lived, to wonder if they left happy, with a legacy of love, of joy, of happiness.
I once read about a child whose parents wrote about her in The Anchorage Daily News, her obit was heartbreakingly tragic and sad, the grief palpable. But the parents instructed readers to hug their children just a little tighter, a little closer.
They wrote about their child’s short life and reminded me how fleeting this time can be. I loved those parents, that child though I never met them.
But I muse joyfully on that obit that helped me celebrate life just a little bit more. And may you muse joyfully, whether you are a member or Curves or read “The Hobbit” aloud to your children.
And may I not read about you in the Irish sports pages any time soon.
Susan Dromey Heeter, a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white, writes “Joyful Musings” for InDepthNH.org. Dromey Heeter is a secondary Spanish Teacher at Dover High School and the mother of two teenage daughters. Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards. She also writes about thrift shopping and all things frugal in a column called “Budget Vogue” for the New Hampshire Union Leader.