A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Encounters with Death

English: Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York.
 Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

        Since today is known as Day of the Dead in some cultures and we're in the scary Halloween season, I've been running a series of sort on my blog Tossing It Out about the topic of death.   It's not a topic that many of us like to contemplate, but it is a part of life for all of us.   After you've finished this essay at Wrote By Rote I hope you will continue on to my post at Tossing It Out to vote on my Battle of the Bands offering for the first of this month.   Yes, it's a song about death.

         During my childhood I did not have many direct encounters with death.   When I was very young--about 4 or 5--my aunt died.  Since I never was around her the loss didn't register much for me though I was concerned about my mother's distraught state after it happened.  The thing about that death that I remember the most was that my aunt and uncle lived in a nice house and had a color television set--a rarity in the mid-1950's.

         Sometime around those same years I found my mother crying one afternoon and asked her what was the matter.  She said our family doctor had died.  He didn't seem all that close to me and my family so I didn't understand her sadness.  He was just a guy that I went to see when I was sick or getting checked up and sometimes he'd give me a shot, which I did not like at all.

        Years of childhood went by during which I'd get wind that someone my parents knew had died or maybe some relative whom I had no recollection of ever having met.  If my parents had gone to any funerals during those years it was an event that eluded me.  I'd seen graveyards and funeral homes, but never went to any of those kinds of places.

         The first time I ever saw a dead body was when I was still in high school.  It was in a car accident.  I was riding in the back seat with my parents and we passed a car that appeared to have been in a minor fender bender at an intersection.  There did not appear to be much damage to the car, but in the back seat nearest to the side that I was sitting on was a man with his head leaning against the window.  He appeared to be merely resting or perhaps unconscious, but there was a great deal of blood splattered on the window.  I was puzzled about the amount of blood as the man appeared to be generally uninjured.   In fact, I didn't even realize he was dead until I read about it in the paper the next day.   The accident must have just happened shortly before we came upon it because the other occupants of the car, including some children seated near the man, were just sitting in the car with dazed confused looks.   None of them appeared to be hurt, but just uncertain about what to do.  And the man was dead.  I didn't even realize he was dead and maybe the people with him didn't know it yet either.

        Since that first direct encounter with death I have experienced the deaths of  friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members.   I've been to many funerals and sent off many cards and messages of condolences to survivors.  As I grow older death has settled in as a frequent visitor to remind me of my own mortality.   Death will eventually come for me one day, but I'm certainly in no hurry.  Take your time, o death, I'm not ready to go anywhere with you.   Not quite yet.

          Have you had many encounters with the death of loved ones in your lifetime?   When was the first time you actually saw a dead person?   Do you think about your own death or is this a topic that you try to avoid?

          Hope you'll stop by to vote on my Battle of the Bands post at Tossing It Out.  Thanks!


  1. Well my family, being Italian, is all about the open caskets and I HATE that. I went to wakes and funerals as a kid but they did keep me from seeing the deceased. My high school radio/communications teacher passed away when I was in 10th grade and that was probably the first time I saw a dead person. I had bad dreams for months afterwards. I live in absolute fear of losing my husband. If I dwell on it for too long I will end up in such a state of anxiety that I can barely function.

  2. Only in a dream did I feel my brother came back to reassure me that he didn't suffer. He died in a motorcycle accident, partly due to the full helmet he wore. He was only 30.

    I have felt presences of otherness but have not actually 'seen' any spirits.

  3. Like your experience, I lost my grandparents when I was on the young side, saw my first (and only) dead body in high school, and then senior year in high school lost a friend who I'd known since kindergarten-she lived a couple of blocks away, although we'd drifted by the time she was killed in a car crash.

    It was really in my late thirties before I lost someone so close that it left a hole, and sadly, the reality of your forties and fifties is, you see the same faces that you used to see at family weddings at family funerals.

    Like you, I know death is out there, and like you, I'm not in a big hurry to keep my appointment in Samarra.

  4. I wasn't exposed to death or funerals much as a child. Today it's difficult for me to go to funerals or talk about death.

  5. JoJo-- I try not to think of losing my spouse, but I guess it's hard not to consider what one might do in such a case. I'll probably go before she does, but she insists that she's going to go first. I don't want it to be a race.

    DG-- I see those who have died in my dreams sometimes but that's about the extent of it.

    Larry-- It's an eerie thing seeing a young peer in a casket. I guess we can't help think that it could have been us.

    Teresa-- I'm not thrilled about going to funerals. In recent years I've conducted 2 funeral services for family members who were not church goers and didn't have anyone else to conduct the service. I found it to be strange, but those who asked seemed to see me as a sort of pastoral figure I guess.


  6. Dear Lee, my first encounter with death was at the funeral parlor when my grandfather Ready died in 1943. I had just turned seven. I remember my mom taking my younger brother and me up to the kneeler by the open coffin. Peace.

  7. Just because it's been weighing on my mind and you've open the subject, I'm going to share this. i was with my dad when he died this past September. As he passed, his jaw went slack, his cheeks-without his dentures for support-sunk in, his mouth formed into a mis-shapened O. His eyes were almost closed but not quite. And I realized I'd seen this mask before. My mother's face, just after she died, looked exactly the same. Although they had looked nothing alike in life, they wore the same face in death. I wonder if my children will see the same face when my time comes?

  8. Dee-- The first time is always a strange mix of feelings mixed wit the curiosity of seeing someone dead. I've never gotten used to it.

    LD-- Death is a mystery that we all will face. Since being present as my father died I've felt a certain strange sense of comfort about death. I'm not anxious to experience it for myself or others yet I accept that it is an inevitability for us all.



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