I just celebrated yet another year on this planet. Its a good thing. I have been in my fifth decade of life for a few years now.
Many of you might remember from an earlier column I give each decade of my life a theme. I named my thirties the decade of pain. I have am leaning toward a name for my fifties. It seems like this decade is shaping up to be the decade of mortality.
Why? Well I have begun to notice that even though the average age of people I know who are dying are still quite a bit older than me, lately there have been more and more people close to my age appearing in the obituaries.
I began reading the obituaries back in my twenties when I worked as a recreation therapist at a local nursing home. It was the most requested part of the paper for the residents. They always joked that it was the best way to know they were still alive.
I have continued the practice ever since. I realize that many of the people who are in the obituary may never have had their picture in a newspaper even once in their lives before their death. This is may be their one moment of notoriety.
Just because they aren't a star, they all have had little moments of victory and touched lives of those around them. Some write-ups portray the people in a better light than they lived in the time shortly before their deaths. Many tell us things about the person we never knew.
Thank heavens that most do a good job of remembering the best of each person portrayed. I have yet to read one that called the deceased a jerk or worse.
The last few weeks we were also witness to several celebrity deaths. The announcements started with Farrah Fawcit's passing and quickly continued on to Michael Jackson. There was also actor Karl Mauldin and TV pitchman Billie Mays. And Now ex-quarter back Steve McNair has also been found dead.
These people were certainly more well known than the others who had the last two weeks as their final days. They also had talents that allowed them to find fame and fortunes that most of us can only dream about.
Our society gives this level of people more importance in both their lives and deaths than the mere mortals that we are. For some the accolades are earned and deserved. For others it well exceeds reality. I will not mention any one specifically, but I think you may agree that enough is enough.
But tomorrow I will again read the obits listed in the Trib as well as the Sun Advocate. I will wonder about those I never met and grieve for those who I might know.
I will be assured that I am still alive and kicking for yet another day and try to do something that might make someone smile. I sure don't want to be one of the first people that end up being called a jerk in their obituary.