Okay, I know it sounds morbid. Maybe it's a Southern thing. Who knows? I remember being a kid and staying with my Granny a lot. Every morning she would cook breakfast and listen to the radio while she was whipping up those biscuits and gravy. One of the features she never missed was the obituaries. She was always so worried that someone she knew would die, or someone would die that someone else she knew was related to, and she'd miss it. So she never skipped the obits.
Let me explain a little. Here is where I think the Southern thing comes into play. In many cases, funerals are for families and close friends. Not so here in the South. You can go to the visitation at the funeral home when someone you know passes away, or as I said before even when someone that someone you know was related to dies, but you are usually expected to attend the funeral as well. I have actually had people get very offended at me for not going to a funeral. No matter why I didn't make it, whether work prevented me from going or I was sick myself; it didn't matter. My absence from a few funerals has led to some friends not being so friendly to me for a few months afterward.
This is how I was raised and I suppose it is true that the older you get the more like your parents and grandparents you become. Now that my parents are older, they are also in the habit of checking out the obituaries every day and they always tell me if somebody died who we knew. Usually I know it myself by the time they tell me because I've already read it.
I'm doing it, too! Maybe I'm not listening to them on the radio the way Granny did but every morning I pull up my local paper on the internet and see, among other things, who died in the twenty-four hours since I last checked in. Most days I have no idea who these people I'm reading about are, and this is a good thing, but now and then I'll see a name of someone I knew from work or church or through a relative or a mutual acquaintance. And yes, I do sometimes feel compelled to turn up at the funeral home.
Most folks who know me know that I'm a nonconformist in most ways. I don't always do everything out of tradition or duty the way my folks have done them. I do admit to being a creature of habit and I also have my own little eccentricities that I hold dear. Some things I do for none other reason than that's how I was raised. Like making my bed. When I was growing up one of my daily chores was to make my bed when I got out of it every morning and to this day, if I fail to do so, my mother sits on my shoulder for half the day and tells me all about it. So I make the freakin' bed! That's a little thing.
Going to the funerals of people I barely knew is another. No, I don't go to funerals doggedly the way Granny did. Nor do I always show up at the funeral home, even when I probably should. If I can't make it in those cases, I will send a card or some flowers and then later follow this up with a personal call or a visit. For those in my own generation this approach generally is well received. There are others, however, who get their dander up and let me know about it for some time to come.
There are also some habitual funeral crashers around town who turn up whether they knew anybody present, or deceased, or not. I wonder what the fascination is with that? I've gone to more funerals and funeral home visitations than I can count and there are always some of the same people there. I know this is still basically a small town, but come on! Are these people just addicted to grief? Do they get off on seeing other people's emotional pain? Or are they there because they know there will be food? If the latter is the reason, then I hope one lady in particular (known around town as the Devil Woman, because of some of the things she does) chokes on a ham shank one day.
Okay, I've digressed but it's been fun. Back to the matter at hand. I've come to the conclusion that reading the obituaries every day is an okay thing to do. I don't see it as morbid or depressing. It actually has helped me avoid hard feelings from a few friends at times and with all the disasters and human tragedies we are bombarded with by CNN, HLN, FOX News (which I NEVER watch), and the other networks, we are becoming desensitised to death. Staying in touch with your local community is important and death is, without fail, a part of life that nobody can escape. And lets face it. It always has made me feel better whenever someone I loved died and folks turned out en masse to show their respect. I see this as sort of like returning the favor. Losing people we are close to is never easy but the presence of friends, and having their support at times like that, is a comfort that you can't put a price on.
So I'll close on this note. The Daily Citizen will have updated by now and I need to see what's happening here in Dalton. Not just who died either. There's also the arrest report...and that can be a lot more fun to read!
And this is my sole focus for now.