November 1, 2019

Despite my advanced age, I am not an obsessive reader of the obituary pages. Alas, the people I have  mostly cared about have already been there,. However,  I recently checked  the Sunday NY Times obits out of curiosity. Actually, if you really want some good stories, this is a place to start. The biggest challenge to one’s imagination, is to read between the lines. Could this person really have been God’s gift to humanity?

 Some of you may remember the late comedian Alan King, who would read obituaries aloud as part of his act  in an attempt to prove that women lived longer than men, (statistically true) always followed by a laugh line that today would have been politically inappropriate and possibly professional suicide. He referenced in the obits, an overabundance of diseased men in their 90s, all of whom were survived by wives. The general subject, death,  of course, is grim, but my mantra is that you can find humor in anything, and for a good laugh check out, Alan King on Obituaries.

 Ah but I digress. I will quote the one that caught my attention last week– I have changed her name and place of residence  in the event that  her fame slogged its way south to Florida. It was a very simple and inexpensive obit. (they charge by the word)

 It read: “Doe, Jane- Jane Doe of Mainville, Long Island is gone. She lived her life with intention.”

 Well, you’ll pardon me, but think of how many ways that could be interpreted. First of all, no one claimed to have been the originator of that sentiment, but someone was nonetheless intent (pardon the pun )  upon distributing the news. And the word “intention” is appealingly ambiguous. Somehow, the picture of Nurse Ratched  popped into my head, a woman of distinct intention. And then, fleetingly, Eva Braun, creator of questionable lampshades, (who was Hitler’s wife for those of you born after the evil embers of World War Two flickered out of consciousness) Of course, there was Madame Curie and Mother Teresa- both women of intention, and Lady Ga Ga and Marianne Williamson– and a zillion others, known and unknown whose “intentions” have been of all qualities. So much for Jane Doe, whose mysterious life ended in “gone.”

 All of which gives me the most awkward segue into gratitude and would you believe? Thanksgiving! I am talking about gratitude that my name has not yet reached those pages, or to be more practical,. is not yet eligible to appear there.  

And so, I leave you with the November  assignment of listing all the things in your life that are positive — and for which you remain grateful. The sorrows may well be there – nobody escapes them — but for now, we would be wise and good to ourselves by concentrating on our sunshine (when it’s not raining) and the birds, and flowers, and trees. and mountains, (despite having to leave the state to find them)  and oceans and whatever good personal stuff you can add to that. And may you have a really good Thanksgiving.

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