All Uncle Bill was can’t fit in an obituary
Published 8:44 pm Friday, March 24, 2017
My Uncle Bill died a couple of weeks ago and his family asked if I would write his obituary. This is one task that I have never been required to do while working at The Vicksburg Post and am really not sure if I am even qualified for the undertaking, but what an honor my help was requested.
I remember my Uncle Bill as the kind of guy kids would always gravitate toward, because he was a man who saw value in every age. My cousins tell me he coached many, many soccer teams during his life while living in Waukegan, Illinois, and he and his wife, Gloria, opened their home on numerous occasions to welcome in exchange students, even after their own kids were grown and gone.
Before his passing, my Uncle Bill still possessed the spirit of a child — blind to others differences and unconditional love for all, still young at heart even at the age of 73.
Although distance separated us, he would always take the time to come back to the South to visit his family, whether it was for weddings, family reunions or to visit his mother.
Oh how my grandmother loved Bill. Not that she didn’t adore her two daughters, but Bill was her special child. He was the youngest, her only boy and was born three months premature, which was truly a miracle back in the early 1940s.
My Uncle Bill may have come into the world small enough to fit into the palm of my grandfather’s hand, but he grew to become a large loving fixture in so many people’s lives.
So how does one like me write up a thousand words or so obituary that sums up the life of a man that meant so much to many?
The answer is I can’t.
Space in a newspaper does not allow us to write a novella about our loved ones. In fact, even just summing up those things that are concrete like education, military service and work history can be difficult to cull down.
Therefore, what I have come to realize this week is that an obituary is simply record keeping. It is not meant to be the end all of a person’s life, keeping my Uncle’s spirit alive falls on me.
Certainly I will write the words for the newspaper, but to truly honor him, I think it would be more appropriate for me to try and imitate some of his attributes like seeing the best in people, being kind hearted and opening myself to optimism – what a wonderful legacy he leaves behind.
I will miss my Uncle Bill, as will the hundreds of others whose lives he touched, and I will always treasure my memories.
Terri Cowart Frazier is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.