Friday, August 21, 2009

Behind the Obituary

I'm a fan of obituaries. It is the first page I read every morning. At my age I'm interested in knowing who in my realm of friendship has passed on. But even those whom I don't know, I read to discover what a fine contributor to our life the person has been. Whether a man was a farmer who worked hard (a seemingly less appreciated trait), served on the town's board, loved kids, kept a garden or a woman whose life was devoted to others' welfare--these were important to their families and to our life.

When R and I started our life after college in Jackson, we met a young childless couple as we who attended our church. Within a few years children came: two boys and a girl for us, two girls and a boy for them. Ironically, our daughter J and their second daughter S were born on the same date of the same year: August 28, 1963. Although not close during school years because we had moved further north while they continued to live in Jackson, we remained friends to celebrate special dates. New Year's Eve was a gathering for over 15 years until S married and J moved west.

Life rocked on beautifully. J traveled, living in different parts of the U. S, while S and her husband settled down and had two children and a thriving business. S and J met together in January at our oldest son's wedding to find time to chat as they did as youths. Reconnection.

A few weeks ago S's life was shattered by the loss of her well-respected husband in a headline-making situation that no one could have foreseen. This couple, who gave so much of their time to helping others, gaining a wealth of friendships in their years of marriage, and having been blessed as a family, were kind, active in their small church, loving to their families. The shots that rang out that day in the front yard of this couple took two lives and injured another. S survived with wounds in her arm, cheek, and chest. A terrible forever reminder of a tragedy that should never have happened.

No obituary can say how genuinely good T was, how seriously he took his role as father and husband, how he helped his neighbors, especially those older, and did what any young man could to better his neighborhood, his community, his church. His passion was flying and at one time had been an instructor. He is one of those young men who would have made his part of the world a better place to live. And now he is now gone. His community and we friends mourn his loss.

We are left to wonder why.

Todd Randolph died three weeks before his wife's 46th birthday. May you rest in peace, Todd!

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