Between my mother’s slow death, at 45, in 1968 and my dad’s sudden passing in 1996, much had changed about how we process those losses and the grief that follows. What hadn’t changed so much was the way deaths were announced in obituaries: death notices were still, for the most part, fairly straightforward without much flourish or fanfare. Not many of the special traits and eccentricities that make us all unique were included in those days.
But with The New York…Continue
Added by Susan Soper on June 14, 2013 at 8:00am — No Comments
Since I'm the only one of my siblings living in the town we grew up in – Atlanta – I am often the bearer of sad passings of friends from our childhoods. I monitor the obituaries daily and often send one to them, knowing they will be interested: A best friend's elderly mother, a favorite teacher, a boyfriend's dad and, just this week, an old boyfriend himself.
"He was the first boy I ever kissed," my sister Wendy said. "It was very awkward. I had just gotten braces…Continue
Assuming that every day should and could be Father’s Day, it’s not too late to take note of a good dad’s day story I want to pass along – something I heard Sunday on Bob Edwards Weekend (Public Radio International) that really offered a touching footnote for the day.
Edwards was interviewing…Continue
Added by Susan Soper on June 19, 2012 at 10:00am — No Comments
On Father’s Day 1996, I gave my dad a leather chair and ottoman to replace the one he had worn the leather off of – especially the arm and head rests – from hours spent reading, talking on the phone, chatting with whomever was sitting across from him having a cocktail. Yes, probably even dozing. It was meant to be the ultimate gift for his years of love, guidance, nurturing, advice, mentoring, tennis, discipline and devotion.
Two weeks later, he died very suddenly…Continue
I’ve been noticing more pets being mentioned among the survivors in recent obituaries and have also become aware that some papers (most of them in small towns) are running pet obituaries among their paid obituary notices. In their how-to templates they offer guidelines for what to include in an obituary for an animal friend: cause of death, favorite memories, where to send condolences, who to list among survivors (including blood relatives).
There are also many…Continue
Added by Susan Soper on May 18, 2012 at 12:00pm — No Comments
Journalists are great carriers and receivers of information – particularly when it comes to news about each other. We tend to stick together. Facebook has made that even easier to trade information, tidbits, blog postings and personal news whether happy or sad.
Last fall, one of my former colleagues at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution died – a single mom leaving a 10-year-old adopted…
Added by Susan Soper on May 11, 2012 at 10:30am — No Comments
As Mother’s Day approaches, there are lots of children, mothers, sisters, spouses who are missing a woman who meant everything to them. Everything. In many cases, their obituaries probably did not reflect enough about them – their core being – to really illustrate the impact of their lives or the voids they left.
Unfortunately, as the cycle of life proves over and over, there are also…
Added by Susan Soper on May 10, 2012 at 10:00am — No Comments
Gertrude Murrell DuPont Howland doesn’t want to leave anything to chance. Especially not at this stage of her life. She’ll be 102 in July.
The Richmond native was a dutiful wife and mother until she divorced and became an archaeologist in her 60s, traveling to digs all over the world: from Afghanistan and Turkey to Italy, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. She traversed the Khyber Pass and went to Hong Kong.
Her second husband, now deceased, was happy to…Continue
I recently wrote an obituary for a man who died suddenly and too soon. I didn’t know him – he was a friend of a friend – but because I am a writer and am immersed in all things obituaries, I am sometimes called on to pitch in for families and friends. In this case, my friend asked me to write the obituary because she wanted to give it to the grieving family as a “gift” – relieving them of as much of the decision-making, fact-checking, detail-gathering chores as possible at a time…Continue
When I was a child, we had an annual ritual of writing letters to Santa Claus and then going out to the backyard with my parents to burn them. Fascinated even then with all the rites of Native American Indians, I was certain my Christmas wishes would become smoke signals easily read by Santa in the North Pole.
I was reminded of this recently, reading The Legacy Letters: Messages of Life and Hope from 9/11 Family Members. These are published letters for all…Continue
As the 10thanniversary of 9/11 hovers around us all this week, it’s difficult for those of us who didn’t suffer the direct hit – whether in human loss or up-close trauma – to think about how we can pay tribute to those who died, to those who saved, and to those who were left behind to endure their grief.
Never before had our country been so publically bombarded with every moment of that horrific tragedy, shown over and over on televisions that day and on…Continue
Added by Susan Soper on September 9, 2011 at 10:00am — No Comments
People often visit gravesites to commune with whatever piece of their soul might hover in that environment. I have a friend who takes the Easter lilies I give her each year to her husband’s grave, and another who devoted herself to restoring an overgrown, neglected burial ground in South Carolina. There is a woman in New York who advertises her services ($25-35) to visit nearby gravesites…Continue
Added by Susan Soper on August 1, 2011 at 11:00am — No Comments
Every year when Father’s Day approaches, my husband and I pick up a debate that has been with us through 23 years of marriage. Is my dad’s fried corn better than his dad’s? Or vice versa?
It’s really kind of a moot point but a semantic exercise we enjoy annually.
When our two dads were still with us, both of them World War II veterans who knew their way around a kitchen or two, we happily…
Added by Susan Soper on June 16, 2011 at 5:00pm — No Comments
Right on the stiletto heels of spring, eye-popping and heady heights of color and bounce – here comes Mother’s Day!
But for those of us without our mothers, even if you are one, it can feel more like a flat-footed event – particularly as Mother’s Day has gained commercial and emotional momentum over the years.
When my mother died, in 1968 at age 45, Mother’s Day was noted with breakfast in bed or by taking some special chores off her plate or by planting a…
Sometimes it’s pretty hard to find a silver lining in a tragic event – particularly the loss of a valued friend or family member. But time, the most enduring healer, and patient reflection can often point to something positive that resulted from a terribly sad time.
A little over a year ago, a college friend, Sally Chambers Bond, was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. She was devastated. She was brave. She was hopeful. With courage and grace she took on the treatments we…
Added by Susan Soper on April 18, 2011 at 11:30am — No Comments
Who amongst us hasn’t had the best – but unfulfilled – intentions to visit a dying friend or relative? Or even to pop a card or note in the mail just to let them know they were in our thoughts? It’s human nature to procrastinate even with easy things so when it comes to the difficulty of putting words to a sensitive and final situation, it’s no wonder we don’t always follow through.
It happened to me not long ago and even though the person who died was not a close…Continue
Added by Susan Soper on March 4, 2011 at 10:30am — No Comments
During my siblings’ annual New Year’s Eve celebration in Bluffton, S.C. several years ago, my brother, Mike, pulled out a tattered, red spiral notebook he had discovered in a box. The distinctive handwriting was unmistakable – our mother’s script, written in a sort of back-slanted, left-handed style unlike any other. The pages were filled with her thoughts, life lessons and musings written about a year before she died at age 45.
My sister Wendy took the notebook…Continue
Happy Birthday with Hershey Bars
On my dad’s October 8th birthday each year, I buy 100 Hershey bars and just hand them out randomly to whomever crosses my path that day. The first one always goes to the sales clerk wherever I happen to buy them, and then I move on: the post office, a department store, gas station, the restaurant where I buy lunch, the pharmacy while filling…Continue
The day my father was buried – July 4, 1996 – a young tennis player named MaliVai Washington made it all the way to the finals at Wimbledon. Meanwhile, Mal’s then-girlfriend-now-wife, Jennifer, came to the service on the beach at Ponte Vedra, Fla. to join a small band of George Soper fans paying their last respects.
George and Mal had been unlikely friends. A 70-ish white man, decidedly Republican and retired though not a “suit.” And a handsome,…
Added by Susan Soper on October 5, 2010 at 1:30pm — No Comments