I’m young. And if there is one thing young people don’t want to face, it’s death. It’s too far off. We don’t need to worry about it. It’s way in the future – for me, it’s probably (hopefully) at least 60 years from now. Life has a way of being darkly humorous at times. Humorous in the fact that my job description requires me to identify dead people. All day, every day. It’s gruesome, sad, somber, and depressing. I see suicides, car accidents, freak accidents, murders, people that weren’t discovered for days or weeks over and above the luckily much common “natural deaths”.
Okay, okay, before you go too far and my readers get the wrong impression of me, you should know I work in a bank. So it’s not like I actually “see” the deaths, but I do get hundreds of death certificates across my desk. My job is to make sure our customers are dead. Well, that’s my own very sarcastically snarky way of describing it. It’s not exactly accurate, but let’s just say that the bank needs to be able to “prove” that someone is deceased for legal and monetary reasons, and that’s what I do. See if I can prove someone has deceased by procuring death certificates, obituaries, and other means.
Five years ago, if you showed me an obituary, I’d shrug and say, “that’s so sad” and then merrily move onto the next TED.com video (if I wasn’t at work, because of course I’m a productive employee who gives her company her compensated 8-hours 5 days a week). Like this article – I’d roll my eyes and find something else to do. For those of you who didn’t click the link, it’s a random obituary from some newspaper’s website. Trust me, it was random, I haven’t been scouring obituaries for hours trying to find the “perfect one”.
The man’s name is Tony Bellamy, from Kingsport, Tennessee (see dashing man above). He passed away September 17th, 2013, just a few short months ago.
Now this blog post may not exactly follow the rules of the Daily Prompt, but I’m enjoying writing it, so – yeah. The obituary could be boring to just about anybody. But reading it, my mind has questions. The man was not elderly, he was 58. And he died in a car accident. A 2-second google search brought up this article: “Second person dies as result of fiery Kingsport crash“. The article details how Tony was driving with his wife and his son when he was hit head-on by a woman driving and estimated 104 mph. Witnesses of the crash were able to pull Tony and his family from flames from both vehicles, but Tony died in the hospital 3 days later.
Confession time – Tony’s was not the original obituary I read that got me puzzling and wondering. It was this one – his mother – Inez Bellamy (pic below from her obituary).
This is the inspiring one. Born in 1920, she died at the age of 93 on October 15th – less than one month after her son passed away. That isn’t the inspiring part. From what I read about Tony, it seems he followed in his mother’s footsteps. He was a computer enthusiast like his mother and had owned his own store – more importantly, he seemed to really care about people. These kinds of stories make it personal to me. I can’t read death certificate after obituary after death notice and not try to see who these people are, and what kinds of lives they led! These people are inspiring, and motivating! She had a 70-year marriage! This woman worked on the first electronic computer! She didn’t even retire until she was 70 – she was a go-getter! She obviously loved learning and challenges – her obituary talks about how she was passionate about new advances and technology and “amazed family and friends by championing ideas that were ahead of their time”. Being a woman in that field which probably changed faster than many other fields is not easy, especially in her era. I wish I could have met her, she sounds like a dynamic woman who made things happen. I couldn’t miss the fact that she was musical as well – a woman who used both sides of her brain! She fought an up-hill battle where still there is a significant gender gap (read this if you’re more interested). She obviously was an icon in her family, friends, and coworkers, and someone many people looked wanted to emulate.
It’s a terrible tragedy that Tony died in that freak car accident (and I sincerely hope his wife and his son make a full and speedy recovery). But his story is important. His mother’s story is important. My own story is important. But I want to make it important, not just for me, but for other people It was not easy for Inez to be the woman that she was.
That’s the kind of person I want to be. When I die, I want to have an obituary that reads like hers.
I guess the moral of the story is “Don’t have a boring obituary” – people can be inspired and motivated by what you accomplished! Maybe I’ll make that another of my mottos to live by. Yeah, that sounds good.
Is your obituary going to be inspirational?