Number of posts: 13
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By Susan Soper:
'til death do you part
Among the survivors, obituaries usually mention the spouse whether the “devoted wife,” “adoring husband,” “the loyal husband” or the “love of his/her life.” Occasionally, though, careful obituary readers will find poignant “valentines” or little love stories almost buried in the litany of jobs, accomplishments and hobbies.
It’s always fun to happen upon these as they definitely help to paint a more complete picture of how a relationship began or how a couple bonded and flourished over the years. Even just a hint of romance or intrigue or courtship that is revealed adds a little sweet perspective to a departure.
It’s been a couple of weeks since NPR host Scott Simon sat at his mother’s death bed and tweeted her final jou… from the ICU of a Chicago hospital to the great beyond. Yet there continues to be much discussion about the wisdom, respect, privacy, taste of those dozens of updates with his 1.3 million followers knowing her last and intimate life details – and Simon’s expressions of gratitude for her life, grief for her death.
The Devil's Time
As most of us are struggling, albeit happily, to “spring ahead” – rising an hour earlier, adjusting to darker mornings and lighter nights – there is one anti-DST protester who has just said good-bye to all that.
Each morning, we wake up to Morning Edition on NPR and usually hear a jarring barrage of campaign orations, weather reports or obituaries (recently: Helen Gurley Brown).
At this rainy August dawn, I picked up on something that’s apparently been going on all summer but escaped my drowsy attention: A series called “Dead Stop” – visits to cemeteries and burial grounds across the country. I went online to see what I had missed and thought these stories of significant – or insignificant – and off-beat, quirky stories worth sharing.
Nora Ephron was forever young and forever funny. And all of a sudden, she’s gone!
So many of us could relate to her writings, musings, movies and books – not to mention a failed marriage or botched film that made her really human to her fans. When I was starting my own writing career in Washington, D.C. in the early 1970s, she was writing essays for Esquire that were always pithy, self-effacing and spot on. If you never read, “A Few Words about Breasts” check it out.
As the 10th anniversary 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 publicly bombarded with every moment of that horrific tragedy, shown over and over on televisions that day and on every anniversary since. Never before has the grieving, and sometimes healing, process been so publicly dissected, discussed and photographed as for those who lost parents, children, spouses, siblings.
And those of us who didn’t lose a friend, relative or co-worker still lost so much else …
Ryan Means had dreamed of joining the Army since the age of six, but it was not until his childhood playmate and best buddy Adam White was killed in the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers that he was mobilized into action. The despair of riding his bike around New York City, posting flyers, checking in with hospitals, and, finally, accepting that Adam was dead were more than he could take sitting down. He never sat down much, anyway. After a couple of years of percolating grief, resolve and rage, Ryan, then 31, left his career in New York and, with Adam’s initials tattooed on his torso, enlisted in the Army, determined to “get” Osama Bin Laden …
With Memorial Day approaching, any story about a soldier who is willing to serve, to give his life, to go after the enemy can stand in for the many thousands of stories out there – all of them worthy. But though Memorial Day recognizes service members who’ve died in battle, this isn’t a story about a soldier killed in combat.
It was the kind of bright blue sky you find only in October as dozens of people gathered in Suwanee, Ga. to pay tribute to Thomas Joseph Rees.
The obit was compelling:
“Fighter by day, lover by night, drunkard by choice and Uncle Sam’s Marching Clown forever.” So, too, was the service for the 62-year-old former Marine who “enjoyed beautiful women, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Camel cigarettes, fast cars…”
The family gathered on the front porch of the home, facing us: the 87-year old mother, a sister, one surviving brother, spouses, assorted nieces and nephews. The Marine honor guard was off to the side. And behind us, about two dozen men and women dressed in jeans, bandanas, caps, boots and vests filled with military medals stood dead still holding large American flags.
Is it still early enough in January to be dishing about New Year’s Resolutions? Here’s an idea that’s pretty unique. Not to mention generous: giving away 100 bucks a day. Every day. For a year.
You don’t need to do the math: $36,500. Pay it forward!
Full disclosure: The auteur/donor of this year long project is my boss’s wife. But spreading the word about this is more about spreading the wealth than sucking up. As Betty Londergan likes to say, “I’m putting my money where my mouth is.”
My third and best husband and I just returned from my first husband’s fifth wedding. On the banks of the Edisto River, in South Carolina, Jack Williams married Judy Smith, in a light rain under live oaks and swaying Spanish moss, with over 200 musicians, friends, family and fans. And one ex-wife: me. The others — Ann, Marcia and Coles — couldn’t make it. Guests ranged in age from infancy to incontinency and were mostly barefoot — attired in shorts and T-shirts, swimsuits, cover-ups and towels. One guest knotted a beach towel at a jaunty angle around her hips and proclaimed herself “dressed” for the wedding. Adam, Jack’s son with Ann (Number One), served as best man, dressed like his dad, in shorts and sandals. Judy’s two grandsons, Connor and Cameron, took their job very seriously, collecting the rings after they had been passed through many loving hands of the […]
My friend Jane Kimbrell and I just celebrated another Dead Dads Dinner. We’ve done it just about every year since 1997. Don’t get me wrong. We’re not celebrating because they’re dead…but because of the lives they led and what they meant to us. Jane’s dad, Bob Kimbrell, died on her June birthday in 1994. George Soper died on my brother’s June birthday two years later. Each May, Jane and I felt like we were heading for a funk – those subliminal blues you don’t have control over when a sad anniversary approaches. So rather than try to squelch the sadness, we chose to hit it head on in a tried-and-true Southern ritual of dealing with sadness: Let’s eat! So now they are remembered every summer with a good martini and the best steak Atlanta has to offer. Both of our dads loved the aged steaks at Bone’s, and while mine […]
This week marks the 145th anniversary of the brutal Civil War battle fought at Kennesaw Mountain. What better time to take note of how one venue of that ferociously fought war to protect segregation and slavery has become the picture of diversity? My husband and I have been hiking the Kennesaw trails for almost 20 years and have been increasingly struck by the growing array of accents, languages, skin colors and ages visiting this historic national park. Independence Day weekend presents an opportune time to check this out for yourself. Last weekend, we took the Cheatham Hill trail to Kolb Farm (bordered by Powder Springs Road), and our trek back toward the mountain included a stop at the Illinois Monument – an imposing honor to the Illinois boys and men who died in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. We were stunned that we hadn’t even known of its existence and […]
Now that the hot air balloon rides, scavenger hunts, teas and cash bars have exited the opening weekend of the Henry Moore sculpture show at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, it’s a perfect time to go. You just don’t need “Moore” to do than view. What more visual stimulation or extra-curricular entertainment could possibly enhance the elegance, enormity and sheer simplicity of the 20 pieces in “Moore in America” – a show that has debuted at the New York Botanical Garden last year and will be in our Midtown garden through Oct. 31. Don’t miss it. Part of the opening weekend hoopla was to introduce metro Atlanta residents to the new once-controversial parking garage. Are we over that yet? The parking garage is truly nestled into a hillside – well, as much as possible – and has been designed and landscaped all over to make it not only palatable but downright […]