January 28, 2012

What Will Others Write About You?

I rarely read the newspaper. I have found, even our local small town newspaper is more about sensationalizing tragic events to boost circulation and less about reporting the facts people need to know. I found it sad and distressing. Each morning the kids would collect the newspaper on their morning rounds to take out trash and feed the animals. When I came out it would be laying neatly on the coffee table waiting to be read. I would scan the headlines, knowing it was unlikely I would find time to read it cover to cover like I did in my single days. I noticed the headlines were becoming more and more sordid. I tend to internalize what is going on in the lives of others and in world events and found myself becoming more and more discouraged after reading the paper. Then, when I saw Aedan reading the paper one morning, I started thinking about our young children seeing that first thing each day. If it was overwhelming to me, I can't imagine what effect it would have on our six year old readers. 

That is when we decided not to renew our subscription to the newspaper. Allen reads all the news on the internet and I figure if there is something I need to know about, he will fill me in.  This system has worked out well for me and our family.

 Once in a while, I still come across a newspaper when staying in a hotel or we might pick one up if there is some important event we want to read about. I skim the headlines quickly. But what I really like to read are the obituaries. You might think that is morbid but it is quite the opposite.

A well written obituary is the celebration of a life well lived. Notice I say well-written. I find it pathetic when I see the obituary of someone who lived to be 90 years old and all the obituary said is how Mary liked to play Bingo and listen to country music. And then there is a long list of all her children and grandchildren. Now seriously, when I see one such as that, I stop and wonder how sad that she had so many years on the earth and she had no impact at all. Alternately, one wonders how sad Mary could raise so many offspring and they can't put a little more effort into reporting on her life. Because in the long run, who cares about Country music and Bingo?

But sometimes you come across a beautifully written obituary that encourages me to reflect on my life and evaluate what I am doing to impact the world. Once in a while, I read an obituary that challenges me to take a good look and make changes. To stop and smell the roses. In short to make the most of every moment in this life on earth.

We had a darling friend who lived to be well into her 90's.  She had a large family.  After one of her great-great grandchildren was born I asked her how many she had all together now.  She said, "Kathleen, you know I don't know.  But I have been working on writing my obituary so I anticipate I will be able to count them all up once I've written all their names down.  Grandma, that's what everyone called her, went home to be with Jesus shortly after.  We celebrated at her funeral.  Hers was a life well lived.

On Monday the father of our friend passed into eternity.  We had the opportunity to meet this gentleman and had been the recipient of his kindness many years ago.  We had also been blessed by the gift he passed on to his children and grandchildren who also exhibit a heart for serving others, even if those others are perfect strangers.

I was awestruck the first year we lived here and one son and his children came and spent an entire Saturday helping us split and stack firewood for the winter.  Allen and I had never met them before they showed up at our door.  An hour from their home to boot.  We had the three girls and baby Nathaniel at the time.  I was Allen's official helper when it came to the job.  Since I was pregnant with Aedan, I couldn't do much to help out.

This man not only lived a life worth reporting about, he created a legacy that will go on by the example he set.  I was exhorted and encouraged by what my girlfriend's husband, this man's son-in-law, had to say in his email regarding Mr. Frederickson.

*As I do with many emails or letters I share here, I have corrected typos and spelling errors.*

Yesterday morning (1/23/2012), Jeannette's father passed away at his home in Gaithersburg, MD after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's Disease. G. Merritt Frederickson was 74 years old. He was a loyal husband to my mother-in-law for 54 years, a great father to Jeannette, a fine father-in-law to me, and a caring grandfather to our children. 
Many of you met him when he and I my mother-in-law would come for Cantatas and piano recitals. He was a strong supporter of his grandchildren, visiting often and attending activities. 
He was well-known for setting aside his agenda on short-notice and helping anyone that needed it, whether it was for car-repair, playset-building, wood-splitting, helping people move, offering temporary housing in his home, or even helping to build a house. 
He attended church all of his life, even meeting his wife-to-be there at the age of eight years. He enjoyed being active, involved, and assisting others. He will be missed greatly by his family, friends, and church,


My dear readers what will your obituary say?  


  1. I do not read the news paper either for the same reasons

  2. I have often wondered what my children would say about me?

    I grew up reading the obituary with my grandparents. I suppose that's what happens when grandparents are raising their grandchildren. Not such a bad habit to pick up, I suppose.

    Blessings and prayers,

  3. What a beautifully, lovingly and thoughfully written obituary. I admit, I do not read the newspaper either, for the same reasons as you. Your thoughts here are inspirational and coincide with other ways God has been speaking to me.