This past week I wrote an obituary. I have written many different types of pieces in my life as a writer but this was the first obituary I ever wrote. You see this past week my mother in law passed away at the age of 82. Her name was Margaret Conant Michael and my husband, John was the second of her four children. As I wrote the information down about her life, it occurred to me that the facts don’t really tell the whole story of a person. How do you convey a life in a few short words that run in the obituary column of a newspaper?
Sure, I mentioned her honors; she was a Trustee Emerita of Brown University and a recipient of the prestigious Brown Bear Award. She served on the President’s Advisory Board of World Vision, and was a member of the international women’s business organization known as the Committee of 200. And I told that after her husband’s tragic death in a plane crash in 1972, she became the sole owner and president of Michael-Walters Industries, Inc., a successful small business providing lubricants to the coal industry which she and her husband David started in 1964. And I told that she was active in her church teaching Sunday School and getting enthusiastically involved in the youth ministry when her children were teens.
But that just doesn’t really tell her story. It doesn’t show the love she had for her late husband whom she met during Freshman week at
when they were
both Freshmen. He was a Christian young man who fell in love with her but did
not want to marry an unbeliever so he shared his faith with her and took her to
a Billy Graham crusade where she accepted Christ. He was a man whom she loved
till the day she died even though she was widowed at the tender age of 42 and
lived another 40 years without him. Brown
It doesn’t tell how she kept the family together and bravely ran her husband’s business in his absence, keeping her head high and her spirits up. It doesn’t tell her faith which was a rock to her in difficult times. It doesn’t tell how every year she used to sprinkle candy and nuts in a line from the Christmas stockings to the front door and just outside and would then tell her children that she walked in on Santa startling him so he ran out the door as fast as he could dropping the goodies behind in his hurry. Or how she led the family in a small parade beating pots and pans around her house at the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve every year, or how her eyes twinkled when she sang silly songs which she loved to sing even in her old age in the nursing home.
No, a short obituary just doesn’t get the story of a life told really. So those of us who remember keep her story alive in our hearts.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Psalms 116:5