I love Sundays now that I am retired. During the week I get my daily news briefing online, but on Sundays I spend a leisurely day poring over the New York Times. I even read the Sports section, which I never do during the week. On Sunday, I also scan the obituaries. It’s not that I’m morbidly curious; often they contain words of wisdom from the departed. My favorite line from the 1980’s, one that others have stolen over the years contained the line, “In lieu of flowers, the deceased asks that you vote Democratic in the next election.” Always, the obituaries pique my interest as I imagine lives lived in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. I think about native New Yorkers who retired to Boca Raton and “Lois” from Michigan who requested that her family post her obituary in the Times. Why was that important to her? Why did her family think it fitting that her request be part of the narrative of her life?
Yesterday’s page contained the story of a recently deceased wife who met her husband “on vacation in Nantucket on August 1, 1960, became engaged on August 7, 1960, and married on August 27, 1960.” The marriage lasted nearly 57 years. “Isn’t that something?” I said to my husband. When our daughter became engaged at Christmas 22 years ago, after having dated her future husband for only three months, she told us they planned to be married that summer. “Why, you won’t even have known each other for a year before you get married. Are you sure about this?” We were concerned. Imagine if their courtship had been less than a month in length!
Parents worry about their children. That’s what we do. But we have to trust that we have tried our best to make them independent, confident adults. Then, we let them go, just as the parents of the couple of 1960 whose tale was told in yesterday’s Times obituary section, did.