It’s a thing now. Checking obituaries on the digital edition of my local newspaper. They only let the casual reader see the first couple of lines without buying a subscription so I switch to the funeral home website for all the details.
Have I become ghoulish or macabre searching for the suddenly dead? No, it’s become my task to look since all those who used to pass on the news to me have become obituaries. I don’t want to be the person asking a friend about a loved one who passed weeks or months ago. I’ve been on both sides of that question. A man asked, “How’s your dad?” weeks after he died. Bluntly I said, “He’s dead.”
Once we didn’t need the obituary to know someone had died. People called. Neighbors took collections for flowers. They took food to the family. I have two keen memories about my Grandmother Claypoole’s three long funeral days. The Swedish meatballs from a neighbor and crying in the church basement before the service. Crying and wanting to stop because public crying was and is not my thing. In the last months of my dad’s surrender to Parkinson’s, a school friend died. Dad said, “We don’t need to talk about that.” He meant death. I went to the funeral a day or two after Christmas. Alone in the back I cried. And wanted to stop. I hadn’t seen her for years.
I looked at the list of the dead yesterday. No one local. On the sidebar were “notable deaths”. Reg E. Cathay with a distinctive voice. Daryle Singletary with songs apropos for me and others. Musical deaths send me to iTunes to listen to their art. Let Her Lie and Too Much Fun. As I wrote I listened to I’d Love to Lay You Down. That sent me to an earlier version by Conway Twitty. Then I was listening to his Tight Fittin Jeans. A favorite song of a friend I haven’t seen for years. I heard her husband was ill. Remembering her brought the memory of her and me and another friend and a kid on a road trip out West. Four females on the road alone. That’s where obituaries take me. To condolences and memory road.