If icebergs reveal only their tips—they aren’t shy, just heavy—it seems possible that obituaries might also share that characteristic. Perhaps the same heft. In both cases, there’s more to be seen and told.
I have known about this similarity—icebergs and obituaries—for years. Every day I read the Obituary section of the newspaper. I wrote obits for both my parents. I understand how the limitations of space and time create only fractional descriptions of lives that warrant entire books.
Yesterday the sadness of that disparity—so much to say and tell, but so little space and time—hit me again. This time around, a well-written life summary featured my former colleague, friend and co-conspirator, Ted Schroeder. Fitting Ted’s status as a writer’s writer, his obit was an excellent example of how to gather together all that described this man, summarize it in a few evocative sentences and post it where others could learn about his life and death.
Like all who knew and loved him—I am one of them—I recognize how each of those descriptive phrases was like the top of an iceberg. By the time of my third reading—yes, THAT wise and wonderful man had died—I found myself wandering into universes of pleasant memories, taking cues from the tips of word and phrases: “Don’t forget what you learned from him, what you accomplished because of him, what his witness inspired.”
Ted’s obituary Obituary | Theodore W. Schroeder of Maple Grove, Minnesota | Gearty-Delmore Funeral Chapels, Inc. (gearty-delmore.com) did what it was supposed to: Those carefully chosen words showed just enough of his achievements and character as an invitation to fill in the blanks—to recall with thanks this man’s importance for my life.
Now the sadness and gratitude start….
*If Ted were to read what I’ve written here, he’d kindly suggest a better analogy—icebergs/obituaries?— then take out his pen and edit my words into something worth reading. We understood that about each other….