1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


Mourn; To feel or express grief or sorrow, to
lament or sorrow for a loved one who died.
by Dan Duff 08

The Bible says, “as it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment.”  Since everyone ever born on the planet, with a couple of exceptions, has died I guess you could take that statement to be true even if you are an agnostic.  I had a cousin who was a preacher and that was his favorite verse to use as his text as he would preach a funeral.  He would point his finger at the casket with the remains of someone’s relative and shout “every man woman and child in this service today has an appointment with death,  just like this one lying before us.”    Death is something that comes to us all at some point and even when it is expected it is somehow a surprise to us when it comes.   

My parents and all my uncles and aunts from both sides of the family have all met that appointment.  They were of all ages when they passed away.  Some were babies, some were very old and some where in the prime of their life.  The fact remains that we will not miss our appointment when it comes. 

I had a brother to make that appointment recently.  He was the oldest and the third brother to go. When my last living brother called and informed me it was not shocking because we had received word  he had had a massive stroke and it had been determined by the doctors a couple of weeks before that it was only a matter of days before he would make that last appointment.  As we spoke of his passing it became abundantly clear that we knew so little about this oldest brother. We fumbled for words that would console each other.  In fact one of us made the comment that we didn’t really know enough to mourn his death. 

Just last year we lost another brother and him we knew well.  We then and now would relate stories of him with laughter and the knowledge that he would enjoy the stories as much as we did.  We would listen intently on those occasions when he would come back home and his old friends would come to visit and relate some funny stories  about him and the good old days. 

When I found out the funeral home making the arrangements I went to their web sight and checked out his obituary.  Wow, talking about not knowing someone!   I could have been reading the obit page of any newspaper in the country and would have known as much about total strangers as I did about my own brother. 

At first I was saddened, then upset, then angry.  I started going through all the information I did know about this man.  I knew that he was in the navy, served in the Pacific theater in the forties, but I had no idea that he was an underwater demolition expert.  Did he receive any medals?  Did he do any heroic acts.   I knew he came back after WW11 and lived in the area around my home town for a while.  I knew he met and fell in love with a girl who was pregnant with another mans baby.  He married her and gave the baby his name.  He had another baby and seemed to be settling into life selling insurance and living the post war life.  Then something happened that caused him to up and leave his wife and children and go to one of the northern states and from there things were real sketchy.  He remarried and had a couple of more children and little else was known about him.   

In his obit they called him Reverend which would make me think maybe he was a preacher of some sort.  But of what sort?  Was he one of those “hell and brimstone” preachers who would have you sliding under the pew as you recognized your own sin or was he one of those “silver tongued devils” who could have you writing him a check for the last ten dollars in the bank to help him to the next crusades.  I didn’t know that.  Once I asked my mother if he ever came to see her and she would only say that he would drop in out of the blue for a minute or two every once in a while. 

We get news every now and again about a former friend or classmate who has passed.  We read or hear about someone famous such as an actor or politician who has met his appointment.  We let the news sink in and have our thoughts of who they were and the way we knew them.  Sometimes if it is an old classmate, we seem to relate to them as when we knew them in school.  If they are an actor we usually relate to them as a character they played.   

When it is a family member we remember holidays, or events in their lives that crossed with yours.  Sometimes we remember an argument or a time when they helped you get through a rough time. 

A man once looked at a grave stone and noted the date of birth and a dash and then the date of death.  He then said “Isn’t it funny,  that little dash stands for everything they did between their birth and death.”   I say, “ isn’t it funny, when a family member dies and his whole life to you is just a little dash on a headstone between the day he was born and the day he died.”