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As the old joke goes, we need to read the obits each morning to make sure we're not on the page. Yet.

For several years I've been fairly consistent about reading these notifications. As fascinating as I find the careers, the hobbies, the life-changing experiences and the startling numbers of generational offspring they have produced, what jolts me, and what I'm looking for, is the occasional golden nugget.

Occasionally, a few words the obituary's writer discovered to express what he or she found inside another are akin to poetry. Yet, it is likely the author does not know their words capturing the essence of the friend or loved one will impact strangers who happen to read them.

My nugget search began accidently one ordinary morning when I glanced down at these words: "She loved to ride with the wind in her hair." I remember nothing else in her obituary, not her age nor her interests nor her accomplishments nor her politics, not even her name. I don't think I even had the presence of mind to clip out the column. But, I'll always remember her because someone wrote down her spirit and touched those of us who also love the wind in our hair.

Another woman who loved the wind: "For her 75th birthday, she sky-dived 13,000 feet in Nevada. She tells that they wouldn't allow women to do so when she was in the military so she did so on her own terms."

And this thinker: "Fiercely independent, E. was also incredibly introspective and vulnerable. Her numerous journals give testament to the care she placed on relationships and to the ways she challenged herself to do more, to do better. Likewise, she challenged those around her to think critically and to question the status quo."

Oh, to have known this guy: "C. was notorious for being the fun uncle. From showing up late at night to take them sledding ... to running everyone out of the swimming hole by singing loud so they could have it to themselves."

A vibrant and fun fella: "N. lit up any room he walked into. He was the absolute life of the party! ... He could run, jump, shoot hoops, score touchdowns, run backwards eating pizza. ... He was a true momma's boy and was not afraid to admit it."

Another intense soul "was a master craftsman of anything you wanted made of wood. He could build a house, beautiful furniture, handmade bows, or a chicken pen. He was so talented and skillful in creating anything that solved a problem. ... He loved deeply and quietly and shed many tears about life's disappointments even when it was because of his own limitations. His heart was as big as the moon, but he didn't always know when and how to share it."

Young and beautiful: "She was an animal lover, passion seeker, human rights supporter, philosopher, wicked smart and beyond big hearted. She had the kind of heart who would take her shirt off for another in the pouring freezing rain if it would offer comfort to someone in need. ... She was the kind of person who softened the presence of strangers. Actually, she didn't know a stranger."

Honoring a modest father: "Remembering his intelligence, his quick wit and kindness will be the legacy he leaves behind. The fact that his is being written for public exposure would cause him to have a good ol' southern hissie fit as he was a humble man."

Death cheated everyone: "P. was not finished living, she was still laughing and finding joy in all her days."

Characters abound: "K. added his own brand of fun to all situations with his exuberant and zany sense of humor. ... After losing his 20 yr old cat last year, he wrote, 'I hope the people who loved us will miss us.' "

And just last week the world lost M. She "was that gal wading barefoot in a creek, laughing over flowers, minnows, and dragonflies. She relished hot cups of tea and heart-to-heart talks and was never too busy to put down her rake to offer a hug."

Obits are full of people who have "never met a stranger," those who married "the love of their life," and those whose greatest joy was being with their families. But it's those who've had someone write a phrase that touches on the deep essence of who they were who are the lucky ones.

Long live their perfect words!

Commentary on 05/26/2020

Print Headline: Essense in the last word

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