This may sound morbid at first thought but I read obituaries. It’s not so much that I am of an age when my own obit will be in the local paper down the road, but rather my innate curiosity. Let me explain. I know quite a few people and some of them very well . . . I know their wives, their kids, there jobs and hobbies, and have spent hours with them over the years. Yet, I don’t know their story. Everyone has a story . . . a unique life of mountaintops and valleys, moments of great strength and great regret, successes and failures, loves and hates . . . the list of human experiences is endless. And, despite it all, we are the only ones that truly know our selves. Perhaps we are like an iceberg, most of us remains under the surface and unknown. There are times as well when we discover that we actually surprise ourselves.
Long story short. Our obituary is, perhaps, a two paragraph summary of what we did and who we left behind. Maybe that is just as well. However, last Sunday–it was rainy and cool and an indoor kinda day–I spent more time than usual reading the Mpls. Star/Trib. I scanned the many pages of obituaries in the ‘Minnesota’ section–probably a hundred or more people from much those who were much too young to those who lived well into their nineties. Some had photos many did not–a matter of cost I’m sure. At the top of one column I saw a face that reminded me of my brother John and/or a younger Willie Nelson. A nice smile, a beard, and hair over the shoulders in length. The man was 73–about my age–and his brief story captured my interest enough that I clipped the obit and saved it. I wish our paths had crossed and wondered if maybe they had. It was strangely and powerfully captivating and I want to share it with this blog.
O’Brien, Terrence ‘Terry’ Michael, age 73:
beloved by many, died on June 5th. Born in Duluth and proudly raised in Hibbing, he graduated from Hibbing High, Hibbing JC, and the University of Minnesota. He is survived by his devoted wife ____, his much loved sons _(2)____ and grandsons __(2)____ his brother and many nieces and nephews. Preceded in death by his dear son Terry Jr. his parents _______ and sisters __(4)_____ . He drove with style for the City of Mpls. He was passionate about unions, the legalization of marijuana, and all things Irish. He saw the world through a unique and entertaining lens, and shared it with charm and enthusiasm. His friends have celebrated his life on the West Bank and will continue celebrating it in his favorite places: Hibbing, Arkansas, Cork, Ireland, Belize, Madeline Island and wherever the spirit of his long red hair lingers.
How I wish I had had a beer or two with Terry . . . in Hibbing or in Ireland or anywhere he spent parts of his wonderful life. I am certain that his story is worth celebrating. May you rest in eternal peace, Terry O’Brien.