We will just keep on keepin’ on
There are darn few of us who get up each morning and, while getting ready for work, don’t find somewhere, conscious or unconscious in our thoughts, a certain amount of dread that hangs over us as the thought of a particular task we know we have to face each day at our job, comes to mind.
One of my jobs at The Record-Courier is to do the obituaries for the paper. This is, beyond a doubt, the hardest job I have ever had to do. It is not a job for an non-compassionate person. It is really not a job for someone to do who can just separate themselves from each person who walks through the doors of the newspaper in need of some help when their world has been torn apart by grief. It is not a job for someone who cannot feel the individual pain each person is going through at a time when they need to make a final tribute to a loved one and they just don’t know how. But, in the same token, it becomes a job that takes on a certain amount of individual grief for each person. Even though I might not have ever known the person who died, I find myself absorbing the grief of the surviving family and it is so hard for me not to become personally involved.
The last couple of weeks have been particularly hard ones for me at the paper. There have been so many obituaries. That’s not unusual I guess as we seem to go through periods of tidal waves and droughts, but, for some reason I have taken the last couple of weeks a little more to heart than normal. Some of the people were known to me before their passing, or I knew someone close to them, but, most of them were not. Maybe it was the proximity of their ages that made me think longer and harder about them as so many were too close to my own age. It does give pause for thought and personal evaluation.
There was Jacqui Mobley. She was someone who spent so much of her time doing so much for everyone around her. She had lived in Topaz Ranch Estates for 16 years and during that time had been a tireless and dedicated supporter of the VFW Post 3630 through the ladies auxiliary. She did so much, for so many, and I think back to the times I could just pick up the phone and call her for information about what the Topaz area VFW was doing to raise money to help others in need. She was always there to answer any question I had and give me information. The respect she earned from others was evident in the attendance of more than 140 people who came to honor her at her memorial in the TRE Community Park building on March 10. Jacqui will be missed.
Then there was the surprising loss of Connie Wennhold, age 50, and way too close to my age. I didn’t really know her but she had called me at the paper about a year ago. Her son, Aaron, had just completed his community service project of rocked and landscaped holding ponds to catch run-off water for the Carson Valley United Methodist Church, something he needed to do to complete his requirements for his Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout rank. Connie wanted to publicly praise her son for all his hard work and dedication to his project. I went and took pictures and did a small story about his accomplishments. It was Connie who impressed me more than anything that day and through subsequent conversations I had with her afterward. She was gracious, unassuming and yet very strong, so very proud of her son and his accomplishments. She was a gift to our community, her friends and, most of all, her family. The loss of Connie and all she did for the community I took to heart on a very personal level.
People like Margaret Long have deeply touched my heart. Her husband, Roger, had suddenly passed away. There had been no warning … one day he was with her and the next day he was gone. He was another person who was so vital to our community in all that he participated in and now I was speaking with a person who was so lost in how to deal with her grief that all I could do was hug her.
Then came Betty Buchen who needed to place an obituary for her husband Russell. Such a sweet person and again, so lost as to what to do. Again, hugs were necessary. On Wednesday of this week it was Jerry Northway who was placing an obituary for his wife Ginny and again I found that hugs were in order. Dick Nalder, a lifelong Nevadan, died on March 16, and a familiar face that had been seen in Carson Valley since 1946 is gone from all who knew him. He will be missed at The French. There just seem to be so many obituaries in the last couple of weeks and so hard for me not to take some of them personally on one level or another.
I have been on the other side of the need for a timely hug. It was two years ago, April 24, 2005, when my husband died and left me to deal with the aftermath. It was Gary Jensen at FitzHenry’s in Gardnerville that provided the much-needed hug and understanding that came just at the right time for me. Because I now work with Gary all the time on obituaries, I still get that much needed hug every time he sees me.
It is all a part of our life I guess. Death is not for the ones who go before us but for all of us left here to deal with the loss, pick up the pieces of our lives and continue on. Hugs go a long way to heal the pain.
Until next week … we will just keep on keepin’ on.