Obits

My Mom as a child (right) in Florida
This past year I got a little interested in genealogy. I've always wondered about my background, but never got much farther than looking up names on Ellis Island's website, but that changed this past Fall. I haven't done much with it in 2012, and it isn't a top priority, but I'm sure I'll get back into again someday.

This weekend, however, I re-read my Mom's obituary (which I co-wrote, and you can read here) and I found one of my dad's cousins information (when searching for hers). From a very short obituary I learned he served in Korea, was a CPA and it sounds like he never married or had any children. I thought it was quite sad. But who knows... maybe he wanted it that way?! What do you learn from an obituary anyway? My Mom's obituary mentions her cooking skills, but says nothing that she was very critical of others' cooking which may be the root of my own insecurities! I'm actually a fairly good cook, but in my mind's ear I always hear the whisper of her comment "that's not how you take the fat off of a chicken!" And my sarcastic reply? (I would have been either a teen or a early 20-something) "If the fat is here, the chicken is here and there isn't much fat on the chicken or chicken in the fat, what does it matter how I hold the knife?"

What does an obituary tell about us? I guess mine completely depends on who writes it. If I die young, my sister or friends will probably write it. Maybe my husband... but as the years go on it's more likely our CHILDREN will author it.

But I wonder. What legacy will I leave? Certainly not Mike Wallace's (who died yesterday in his 90s, still working at 60Minutes - the antidote to age discrimination)... I'm sure the words wife, mother, friend, sister, (and sister-in-law - an uncelebrated relationship) aunt... may all make the cut. Would someone think of "avid knitter"... maybe "advocate for school libraries and public education"? Oh - maybe blogger? Hmmm...

Over the next two weeks I have to see if I can make a goal that I keep pushing off. In two short weeks I will be running a half marathon (13 miles/21 km). I can do nine... the goal for two months has been to add a mile a week but injuries, allergies and a bump in my road put me off track. So maybe someone will think "runner" - although "inconsistent runner" would be more accurate.

Cleaning an office, a mundane task
An obituary rarely shares the goals one sets for herself and doesn't make (a run for the BOE, an international career). "She always wanted a neat house... but she wanted to have fun even more."

As I get ready for my upcoming college reunion, with all the successful women who are running companies and saving the world, I realize that maybe my life is just fine. My obituary so far sounds very plain. Homemaker, knitter, writer... but it's not supposed to be a professional resume either (and yes, I have one of those with all the expected verbiage: generated, launched, managed, administered, coordinated). In fact, it's what's not stated that is often the most important. My core beliefs, my goals, places I've been, how do I take my coffee and why do I prefer the color red?

As I go through life fighting demons both seen and unseen, my days are filled with the same unremarkable things that everyone else's life has. My everyday life includes planning what's for dinner or what I will wear. Washing/folding/wearing/rewashing/refolding the same laundry over and over. Complimenting someone random on their hat or talking with a 3 year old child about their favorite books. Baking for a neighbor. Counting stitches on a hat I'm knitting. Then recounting to make sure I was right. Then recounting a few days later when I wonder if I've made a mistake.  Remembering my past as my children live their presents. Walking the dog. Cuddling in a loved one's arms. Things that will never make an obituary... but make up a life.

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