I’d rather be passed out than passed on, or, call me anything you’d like, but don’t call me Home

& I just realized that a bunch of us are getting older. Waaaaaay older. Might have something to do with the approach of my silver anniversary. Or is that the platinum anniversary? Or maybe the igneous rock anniversary?

Whatever, it’s luring a bunch of us who no longer can read tiny type to pick our way through the tiny type of the newspaper’s obit pages (yes, there are still newspapers and yes, they still have obituary notices because, yes, people still die.)

One of  my contemporaries, a fella named Larry Lorenz, who once toiled, like Yr’s Truly, in the trenches of  United Press International (yes, U.P.I. is still around as a mere shadow of its former self) and later far outdistanced most of us by becoming the A. Louis Read Distinguished Professor of Mass Communication (now Emeritus) at Loyola University in New Orleans, has sent along the following description of how we veterans of middle age spend our mornings. It was written, says Larry, “by anon, a versifier of my acquaintance.” I suspect Larry’s middle name is Anon. In any event, here it is:

The Obituary Reader

I begin each day at the end of life,
among the obituaries, those encounters
in agate we newspaper readers have
at breakfast with the recently dead.
I track their goings in the prose of undertakers
who rarely allow those now in their charge
the peace of a plain and simple death.

Their dead pass away in those lines of type,
depart this life, or shuffle off this mortal coil,
and I am astounded by the numbers called home
to be with their God or taken to their reward,
sometimes by angels, or even by God Himself.
Many have entered — into Eternal Rest
or their Father’s House —
after a long illness or a short one.
And some go with no explanation at all,
which is explanation enough.

Are there no scoundrels among them?
Wives who made their spouses’ lives hell on earth?
husbands who cashed all paychecks at the corner bar?
back-biters, cheaters or thieves?
adulterers and fornicators? drunks?
or parents who beat their children?
Is no room left for them among the throng
of loving spouses, beloved parents,
and dear children taken from us too soon
by auto accident or gunshot wound?

I’m serving notice now
to that baleful man in the black suit:
When you write of me, tell readers that I died, not passed;
that I left behind a wife who got less love
from me than she needed and deserved,
and children whom I loved, but much too often
failed to teach, as I should have, how to live and love.
But write this of me, too, for whoever reads that agate:
at least I spoke the truth. Or did this once.

Larry’s got some more to say about the effects of the march of time at his blog, here. You’ll learn that you can call him “senior.” But don’t you dare call him old.

& Hoping that I’m never called Home, and wondering if I’m now regarded as a Raggedy-Ass Reporter (Emeritus), I’m outta here.

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