Monday, August 31, 2009

A matter of interpretation, I guess ... ...

[Thursday, September 3rd, 8am ... ... I have been asked by "blacky333" (see comments section) to pull this post. Either that or change the deceased's name. Evidently when the deceased's name is Googled, my post comes up first, which is terribly unfortunate if the googler is looking for information on their loved one or dear friend. I apologize to 'blacky333' and anyone else who read this as it initially published and took offense. I meant no harm or disrespect to her (the deceased's) memory. I wish that 'blacky333' had read some of the comments. For the first time ever, I started off my own comment section with a critical comment which began with, "Where do you get off, Goldenrod, criticizing an obituary that is well-written and seems to accurately sum up this woman's philosophy, 'I did it my way!'" I made a couple of other comments in that section later, as well, which pretty accurately sum up how I feel about this whole 'obituary thing'. I invite 'blacky333' to read them.

I have since deleted (hopefully!) all names referenced in the Chronicle's obituary (copied below) for this woman, and apologize again for any hurt feelings. None were intended, I assure you. However, I might have paid better attention to how many times (the deceased) and her family's names were mentioned in the Chronicle. I guess it's true, then - what I've heard, that the Google search engines will pick up and prominently categorize your article if a name or particular phrase is mentioned enough times. In the future, before I hit "publish post", I will make every attempt to be more sensitive. I will endeavor to read it one last time with these questions foremost in my mind, "Is my meaning clear?" "Will I - albeit unintentionally - hurt someone else's feelings by publishing this post?" (Sometimes, however, it is my intention to show another side of a subject, and that side might even include statements illustrating some of my thoughts that could accurately be interpreted as angry. Again, please see the comments section.)

It is my sincere hope that 'blacky333', even tho she's not from Texas, will be able to attend the gathering in celebration of her friend's life on September 19th.]

How would YOU interpret the following obituary, published in the Houston Chronicle - our one and only surviving 'rag' - just one day ago?

(Name deleted) died peacefully at home August 26, 2009 after a long difficult struggle with smoking-related emphysema. Though this disease robbed her of her energy she never lost her upbeat, fun-loving attitude and she pushed herself to remain as active as possible. (First name deleted) grew up in Kennett Missouri, and graduated from the University of Missouri where she was the president of her sorority, Delta Delta Delta. In January of 1965 she moved to Houston TX with her husband (name deleted) and daughter (name deleted). (First name deleted) loved Houston from the first day. While living in Houston she had a very successful real estate career. Her life ended in her beloved home in Riverview Place with the support of her friends, neighbors, caregivers, family and daughter. It can be said that (first name deleted) lived and died in her own way and had a life she loved. (First name deleted) was preceded in death by (name deleted) her husband of more than 50 years. She is survived by her only child (name deleted). (First name deleted)'s philosophy was "Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves". In lieu of flowers please treat yourself to some luxury, laugh and drink a toast to (first name deleted). She will be smiling down on you with that charming laugh. A reception celebrating her life will be held Saturday, September 19, 2009 from 2-5 PM at her home. All her friends are invited.

I do not make it a habit of reading obituaries. This particular one was brought to my attention by our local American Contract Bridge League's (ACBL) unit website. Apparently, (first name deleted) was a regular player in the duplicate bridge world here for some years, but - try as I might, when looking at or studying her photo - I don't remember her.

I guess some of my questions are, "Who wrote this obituary?" "Was the writer someone who knew her?" "Of what cause did her husband precede her in death?" "As she was - supposedly - a bridge player active in the bridge world, why was that fact not even mentioned in the obituary?" "All her friends are invited to her home" ... where? In Riverview Place? (Not that I would be attending. I don't remember this woman!)

If you'd care to leave any, I'd like to hear your comments. I will add my own response later, for any of you who are interested in hearing what I have to say, so please DO remember to check the little box next to where it says "Email follow-up comments to ... ...". I will only say at this juncture that my first reaction was one of anger, since tempered (of course) by my writing this post.


Goldenrod said...

I'm going to do something I've never done before ... start off my own comment section with a comment.

Where do you get off, Goldenrod, criticizing an obituary that is well-written and seems to accurately sum up this woman's philosophy, "I did it my way!"

SOMEone notified the bridge world that this person had passed, else I would not have known about it, right?

I was going to relegate this post to the (probably well-deserved) garbage bin, but then decided to leave it in. All y'all should know that - at times - I am extremely critical! It's part of who I am. Not a very nice part of me, but it's there nonetheless. (Dr. Wharton would be ashamed of me.)

I have, since publishing this, leveled myself out somewhat by viewing - again and again "The Dash". Have you ever seen it?

Please take a moment to follow the link.

Craig Peihopa said...

I am more curious that you were Angry from the obit Goldenrod. I actually thought it would be a fair assessment of a person who obviously loved life and in her own way lived it to the full. A very interesting post, comment from you you and overall "feel" You are such an interesting person. The Dash is great, very course corrective. Thanks

Tammy said...

Hmmm...not sure what to think on the IS slightly unusual...I've never seen one written quite this way.

I think you are the one that gave us a link to The Dash quite some time ago. I always like a good reminder and/or reason to see that again.

Goldenrod said...

"Course-corrective"? You hit that nail square on the head, Craig! Do you remember where I got "The Dash", by any chance? I got it from YOU, dear heart, last year. If that doesn't correct someone's course, nothing will (imo)!

Both you and Tammy know that I am a smoker, right? I've become so immediately negative in my reaction to sentences that include the words "long difficult struggle with smoking-related" ANYthing that I think those words were what incensed me, initially. Most recently, I've even been called a "sinner" and "dirty" for smoking, if can you believe that.

I've since read and re-read (many times) this obituary, and have come to the conclusion that it was written by someone who loved her. I just wish I could reMEMber her ... I'd go to the celebratory reception on the 19th.

Tammy said...

Yes, I knew you were a smoker, Goldenrod, so I guessed this was the portion that bothered you. I don't smoke, so I can't say if it would bother me or not. I did substitute a few words and phrases like "died from spending her life overweight" and a couple of others, and if I'd read an obit with my changes it would have ruffled my feathers a lot, too. So I guess it really is a matter of interpretation.

I wonder what she is thinking of her obituary where she is now (or even if she thought about it, lol!). Did she enjoy the humor? Did she get annoyed with her loved one for the mention and blame of smoking?

I wonder what my own obituary will be someday and if I'll like what was said about me. But then...I'll be dead...why would I care? lol!

I'm glad you posted this and didn't delete it.

Goldenrod said...

I guess the answer is to write your own obituary, right? Hmmm, I might have to start working on that one ... I mean, I've got everything else all set, why not write my own obituary? (Not today, tho. Other fish to fry.)

blacky333 said...

I'd heard BAC had died and though I haven't seen her for more than 30 years, tonight I searched the Internet for her obit.

I typed her name plus Houston into Google and the first entry that came up is your blog. So instead of getting to read about the life of what I remember as a fine woman, I’m directed to a criticism of her obituary of all things…and from a person who admits she doesn’t even know her!

And the criticisms: you sound angry because she didn’t mention your bridge group even though you sound like you attend all the time and you can’t even place her! Maybe the group was not nearly as important to her as it is to you. Who are you to judge that.

What cause did her husband precede her in death? I’m not from Texas so maybe I don’t know your customs, would something like this be typical?

“…preceded in death by her husband Robert (cancer), her brother Frank and Bill (heart attack and suicide respectively), etc.…” Did you actually expect something along those lines?

Maybe they didn’t mention where in Riverview Place because they knew her friends knew where she lived, or could find out, and they didn’t want every curiosity seeker and busybody reading the Houston Chronicle to show up expecting a free lunch.

I have limited experience with elderly people dying of emphysema, but the ones I knew, knew they were dying. Perhaps BAC participated in writing her own obit and approved or wrote every word…including the ones about smoking-related emphysema. I don’t know that for sure, but more to the point, neither do you.

I’d like to ask you to pull this entry so other friends and relatives searching her obituary don’t have to see it. If you don’t want to do that, please change her name. You’ll still be able to rip the obituary, but it won’t hurt real people.

Tammy said...

Anyone who knows you, Goldenrod, even in blogland, knows you would never intentionally hurt someone's feelings.

Google picks up on anything, lol! Remember that post I did on the last museum exhibit the girls and I attended? The one about the big ship sinking? (Intentionally not mentioning the name of the ship, here.) Well, I get an incredible amount of hits on my blog to that post just because of the words "______ Exhibit" in my post. I actually changed the title of my post, but even the mention of it in the actual post itself still shows up in Google.

I do hope blacky333 will be able to attend the funeral. BAC seems to have loved life, and I'm sure her funeral will be very special to her loved ones.

Goldenrod said...

Hi, blacky333!

I don't know if you will be reading this comment or not - you didn't read any of the others, so you might not read this one, either! - but I have deleted all named references to your friend and amended my original post. Hopefully, it will 'disappear' from Google's search engines.

As I said in my first comment, "I was going to relegate this post to the (probably well-deserved) garbage bin, but then decided to leave it in. All y'all should know that - at times - I am extremely critical! It's part of who I am. Not a very nice part of me, but it's there nonetheless."

Your criticisms have been received and duly noted, "blacky333".

Tammy, your comment was being received just as I was composing this response. Isn't that the way of it? I have since amended my post to accede to the wishes of 'blacky333'.

You and I go way back, Tammy. She and I do NOT! I'm hopeful that she will keep checking back with Google, just to see if I did delete or change this post.

It's my fault for not being far-enough seeing with the possible ramifications of this one.

Thanks for your positive comments, Tammy!

Goldenrod said...

PS, Tammy. I don't think that's a funeral that's scheduled for the 19th, per se. Well, maybe so, but it sounded more like a 'celebratory reception' - bein' as how the hours are from 2-5 that day - of her life.

blacky333 said...

Thank you for making the changes to BAC’s obituary.

Yes, I had read all of the comments before posting and I saw your follow-up where you seemed to have second thoughts about what you wrote.

I responded anyhow, first because the post would still pop up in Google regardless as long as her name remained in it, and secondly because I wanted to address the issues you raised with the obituary.

Thanks again for the changes. (Though I’m sure leaving first names in would have been fine.)

Robin said...

Dear Goldenrod:
I appreciate your thoughts and actually wish I had talked to you before I submitted the obituary. I really regret not including about the Contact Bridge group.

I, Robin Cash, wrote the obituary for my mother Betty Anne Cash. My mother and I discussed it and for example she suggested that I put in about her sorority. She did not mention the bridge but that would have been such a good idea.I am angry that smoking caused my mother to suffer so much, though she really enjoyed smoking.

She was an excellent bridge player and was very active in the contact bridge group. She had master points. I should have put that in the obituary.

The truth is that the smoking in addition to robbing her of her breath and energy, robbed her of her memory. She had to quit playing bridge because she forgot how. Suddenly one day in 2007 or 2006, I am not sure which, she called me in the middle of the night and told me she had forgotten how to play!! She had to play the next day and she was on a panic. I was in Portland OR at the time and I tried to calm her down. But that was the last time she played contact bridge and her friends confirmed to me that all the sudden she just forgot how to play.

She tried to play after that but it was awful. Thankfully she forgot that too, but her friends remembered.

I did not put the address in Riverview Place because since we were having the memorial at her home, I did not feel comfortable putting in the address. I thought people who wanted to come would call her home for the address and some did. I am very sorry I forgot to put in about the contact bridge group because I really did want everyone who knew her to come.

We had the memorial at her home, because that is the way she wanted it. She loved her home. She was so glad she was able to die here at home.

I don't smoke but I too have some several habits that are causing me harm and I have not been able to break. I do not think smokers are "Sinners" Dirty or any other bad things. I am angry with the Cigarette companies for making the cigarettes even more addicting. They purposely add ingredients that increase the addiction of the nicotine.

My mother loved smoking. She did not want to stop even though it gave her perodonal disease that caused her to lose all her teeth. Even though it gave her emphysema. But for those who do want to quit I am angry that the tobacco companies make it so difficult when they know it is so dangerous.

Goldenrod said...

Thank you SO much, Robin, for taking the time to leave your comment. It was a real "feel-gooder".