Monday, February 27, 2017

As regular readers...

...of this blog must surely know, I almost never miss the New York Times Obituaries. It's one of my favorite parts of the paper. Each one is its own little biography, always well-written and often very interesting. And I know I'm not alone; my mother and grandmother were big obit readers too. Haven't you ever heard of the obituaries referred to as the "Irish Sports Page" or the "Irish Funnies"?

But there's a difference, you know, between the obituaries and the death notices.

An obituary is considered a news article that reports on the recent death of a significant person along with an account of that person's life. I think I read or heard once that to get your obituary in the New York Times you must have been mentioned in the paper at least once before in a news article.

A death notice, on the other hand, is a paid memorial advertisement usually written by family members or friends, perhaps with assistance from a funeral home. And for a few extra bucks, I imagine, you can enclose a picture of the loved one.

And that's the point of this post. While I never miss the obits in the Times I rarely look at the death notices. Rarely. On Sunday I couldn't help noticing a few of the pictures that were submitted for publication.

The first was of a man named Roland Finkelman, of Lincolnshire, Illinois. As you can see, he has an eyepatch. While "Rif," as he was called, possessed "a great heart and a wicked sense of humor," he was also "a voracious reader and movie buff with a prodigious memory." A "treasured brother, a phenomenal father, and a beloved grandfather," Rif will be missed for "his love and caring, his wise counsel, his laugh, and his unique and particularly effective use of all the prosaic, profane and creative words at his disposal." But nowhere does it say anything about him losing his right eye. Was that eyepatch just an example of his "wicked sense of humor"?

Next is a Dr. James Currin, of Stamford, Connecticut, "known to friends and family as 'Doc'." Really? A pipe? That's the picture you wanted to appear in the Times? You don't have a good one of him without that device to inhale burning tobacco sticking out of his mouth? He must have gone everywhere with that thing.

Finally there's Barbara Walsh Freehill of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. It's hard for me to make fun of this woman since she met her husband at "a St Patrick's Day Dance." But why does she have her hand in her hair? Didn't the photographer tell her to put her hand down? Or did he say, "Put your hand in your hair and say 'cheese.' "?

Anyway, may they all rest in peace.

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