The departed live in our minds, hearts
By Michael O'Hare
Published: Friday, May 3, 2013, 10:17 p.m.
Sometimes as we meander through life, flowing like a stream, moving around bends into unknown vistas, it suddenly dawns on us the current has taken us a long way from where we started.
It hit me like that last week when I got a phone call, telling me that my cousin Gary had died.
I grew up in one of four houses in a row of homes occupied by my maternal grandmother's children. There were six cousins including me, but Gary was closest in age and lived next door, becoming my de facto older brother.
It was a time of learning about girls, listening to music and Pirate games on the transistor and spending hours washing and waxing our cars – mostly Gary's – in the alleyway next to his house.
He had a Ford Fairlane, racing green, with convertible top and I will never forget the day he told me to drive it around the local streets with the top down, music playing, the sun shining. The best part was pulling into the lot of the community pool, swinging around the turnaround and “growling” past the onlookers.
It was the late 1960s and life was good – no, it was cool, man!
Over the years – as the twists and turns of life can have it – Gary and I moved apart from each other and of late he and his wife Nancy were living in Florida. We exchanged the occasional e-mail. He invited us down, but we never got to make the plans.
Think, if you will, of all of the people who have been a part of your life, yet who drift away into the wide world, sometimes out of touch, sometimes in unknown places. So-called social media keeps people together – or at least informed longer – and that can be a good thing.
Death, however, is different.
Yet in some ways, Gary, my late sister, parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles remain part of the yet continuing stream. These folks live in our minds, in our hearts, in our very beings.
To be sure, memory is a tricky thing, and often we come only to remember the good things that happened, and the good in the people among whom those things happened.
But that might be a built-in protection.
In the Thornton Wilder masterpiece of “Our Town,” the young Emily Webb dies and is given a chance to revisit one day in her life. She finds the intensity of the sights and sounds and smells and the actions of her loved ones too overwhelming to stay and returns to the cemetery.
Her great line is: “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?—every, every minute?”
To me, the whole play is that call to attentiveness to the everyday things.
Gary was once a part of my everyday, some moments in the sun, my day driving around a cool convertible, an older brother who set examples. The day I slipped off the diving board at the pool and splashed about hurt and disoriented and he jumped in to pull me to the side.
He still flows right along with me.
Think of all the folks that have done that for you. And be alert to all those who are doing it now. They are all part of our meandering stream, and we are all going in the same direction together.
Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with News Editor Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Neighbors say bright, flashing sign in West Kittanning interferes with sleep
- Clarion company awarded bridge contract
- Ukrainian pen pal reaches out for Kittanning Kiwanis help
- West Kittanning to revisit zoning
- Neighbors say bright, flashing sign interferes with sleep