Friday, January 13, 2006

Obits and pieces

Solomon said some pretty strange things.

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth.
It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
--------------------------------------------------Ecclesiastes 7:1-4

Solomon. The ultimate party animal. Celebrated ladies’ man. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines and said whatever his eyes desired, he did not keep from them. Erich Von Daniken even said he probably owned a flying machine and he showed the Queen of Sheba around in it. The wisest man on earth wrote some of the most depressing things in all of literature. Probably not a coincidence.

He thought about death a lot. Probably because he had such a full life. He thought about death because he’s seen it all. We, on the other hand, don't think about death that much because we aren’t through with life yet. Solomon thought about life, and his grand conclusion? It’s all pointless. Like Paul Weller said, “Oh heavenly thing won’t you cleanse my soul. I’ve seen all on offer and I’m not impressed at all.”

An entry on the Twisted blog is about the death of the writer Bienvenido Santos. A funny piece on an impromptu send-off given to him by his friends and fans. This got me looking for more obituaries. The New York Times obit section has some fine ones. They give a summary of the person’s life and achievements and when applicable, mention the… survivors?

Mr. Schoemaker is survived by his wife of nine years, Anne Faulkner Schoemaker; three daughters, Maureen, Katherine and Anne; and one son, Matthew, all of the Philadelphia area; his parents, Paul and Betty Schoemaker; three sisters, all of whom live in the Netherlands; and one brother, Paul, who lives in the Philadelphia area.

He is also survived by a son, Reed, and by his fiancée, Janet Davis, both of Skillman.

He is survived by his wife, Virginia, a researcher at the Investor Responsibility Research Center and the author of several books on corporate governance; a daughter, Dorothy, of Bethesda, Md.; a son, Daniel, of Washington; a brother, Marcus, of Washington, a senior editor at National Public Radio; and two grandchildren.

I don't know, but I dont want to see that in my obituary. (Assuming, of course, I’m not really dead but still alive somewhere and conscious and watching over you. Solomon didn't believe in that stuff, by the way.) I mean, ‘survived’… that’s a word I always associated with someone who has gone through a harrowing ordeal and made it out alive. “The earthquake struck and the roof came down on me and I was trapped in the rubble and I had to drink my own pee and eat cockroaches for three days before the rescuers came and found me. It was rough. But I… survived.

"He is survived by his wife, his children, Eanie, Meanie, Miney, and Mo, and his pet duck Maurice." What, was living with him such an ordeal, such a struggle for survival?

Those at my funeral after reading the obituary, would ask those I left behind, "Oh my God, are you allright? How did you survive him?"

No comments: