Posts Tagged ‘obituary’

My youngest daughter and I headed down to Florida two months ago. It was her Spring Break and she was looking forward to a respite from the Vermont weather. I was happy to be visiting with one of my brothers.

I like a day at the beach just as much as the next guy. But I also like to do a bit of exploring. So, on one of the days, I suggested visiting an orange grove. Because Florida has miles and miles of citrus farms. Plus I like orange juice.

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There were no tours on this particular day so we scoped out the place and sampled some of the different fruit slices that were being offered. Bought some freshly squeezed juice to bring home.

Leaving the grove we began a version of what my daughter calls, “Moose Hunting.”

You might ask, “What on earth is that?”

Here’s the short version. Said Mary never.

There are many signs posted all over New England highways.

Bear Crossing-Stay Alert

Moose Crossing-Stay Alert

Deer Crossing-Stay Alert

Or the one I observed this past weekend in Vermont.

Wildlife Crossing-Stay Alert

It’s like they (the sign makers) just sighed, gave up and lumped all the animals together. Lazy scuts.

Back to my point. For all of these roadside warnings it is very rare to see a moose.

Deer? Yes.

Bear? Maybe.

Moose? Nah.

They exist, for sure, but no one actually ever sees one.

Enough with the warnings already.

So when my daughter and her college friends go exploring it’s called, “Moose Hunting.”

Sort of like rambling.

Whoever is in the passenger seat will give directions. Knowing they won’t see a moose but keeping hope alive.

“Go left.”

“Go Straight.”

“Go right.”

In the end they will arrive at some random town/destination. It’s just a fun way to get out and explore.

On this day in Florida, my daughter was in the passenger seat as we we left the citrus farm.

She said, “Take a right.”

And then another right.

My brother follows her directions. Drives a bit.

There is a cemetery on the left hand side. He slows the car.

He says to me, “Because I know how you like cemeteries and history.”

What he actually thought was probably more along these lines, “As good a place as any to stop for a smoke.” 🙂

Looked like a nicely maintained cemetery. We drive in and pull to the side. Lots of trees dripping with Spanish Moss.

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We get out and stretch our legs. Have a look around the area.

There is a big tree with things on it. Signs that say “Truth” and “Respect.” Another one says something like, “Thief or SOB. Think before you steal from the dead.”

I’m not sure what all is going on with that tree.

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To the right of this tree is another one. This also has something posted. Looks like a “Reward” sign is nailed to it. We get a little closer to see what exactly it is.

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Oh my goodness. It is the unsolved murder of a young boy. His grave is behind the tree where the “Reward” notice hangs. His name was John Welles and he was killed in July of 2003.

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This town appears to be very small. Seemed like a few surnames dominated the cemetery. Probably the founding families of the town. Welles was one of the names.

It is always sad when a young person is taken too soon. But horrific when it is an act of violence. This poor family never having the opportunity for any type of closure. No one ever being held accountable for taking the life of their child. Someone getting away with murder. Sixteen long years for his loved ones.

We looked around the rest of the cemetery on our way out of there. Confederate flags provided a pop of color on some of the older graves.

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Took a last look and we were back on the road.

Now we were very curious to know more about what happened to poor John. Surely, there would be tons and tons of information on such a case. The killing of a young white boy from a small Southern town, descended from settlers, would most definitely be plastered all over the news. I imagined reading about on-going campaigns to reopen the case, reward offerings, articles, etc.

So, after dinner, we put Google to work. What we found was next to nothing. His obituary and one article from a “Most Wanted” type of site. Quoting his mom. That’s about it. Very, very strange.

His mother, after the murder, posted more than 350 notices on billboards in three counties asking people if they had tips to contact police. Apparently, it didn’t help at all.

John’s obituary here.

His mother’s plea here.

Seemed that John arrived home from Walmart that Sunday morning at 11:30am. Within five hours he was found dead in a creek near his house. It was originally thought to be a drowning but an autopsy showed that he was shot in the eye first and then put in the water.

How does something like this happen in a small town on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of summer? No one sees anything? No one knows anything? Why does there not appear to be any interest in solving the case?

So bizarre.

I did come across another article about a young man who was also found dead in the creek. About the same age as John. Found that to be a bit curious.

It is my sincere hope that one day John’s family will finally receive the answers and justice they truly deserve. That one day they can finally take down the sign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Another obituary I thought was nicely done.

Back in September a friend of my husband’s family died in Connecticut. So I had a look at the write up. It listed the activities of an accomplished, active and hardworking woman.

It stated that the burial was private and there would be no calling hours.

Last line was this.

Audrey would rather you take a friend to lunch or reach out and perform some act of kindness.

I thought that was just lovely.

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Many times we read an obituary and we wonder about the cause of death. Sometimes the family will request donations to a particular organization. In lieu of flowers. That helps one suss out the cause of death. Well, not always. My father did not die because of food even though we requested donations to the Rhode Island Food Bank. Laugh out loud.

Other times it is just spelled right out for you. There was a recent obituary here in New England. There was absolutely no guessing about why this young fifteen year old died.

His family wrote an obituary that was just heart breaking.

Connor Francis Tronerud, 15, took his own life on Monday, December 4th, after struggling with bullying from peers. 

That was the beginning of an obituary for a child who was loved. This was an obituary that never should have been written. Never.

At home, Connor could most commonly be found “chillaxing” in his room with his iPad, Nintendo, and peanut butter cookies. He enjoyed going on hikes with his father; he looked to his mother for support as a confidant. He didn’t hesitate to ask his brother to borrow his credit card for online shopping. 

There is more, of course. Hard to sum up a person’s life in an obituary. So most folks usually stick to the facts rather than descriptions of personality and accomplishments.

He was an altar boy, had the highest GPA ever earned at his school and was a member of the National Junior Honor Society.

See Connor’s full obituary here.

This obituary captured the essence of Connor. For us. His family was sharing him with us. So we know that he was loved. That he was smart. That he was involved.

That this could happen to anyone. That bullying is real.

It’s not new. Behaviors are never really new. Ask a psychiatrist or a priest and they will tell you that they’ve heard it all. Nothing about human behavior is new.

But social media has opened the floodgates. And made it worse. Because there is no safe place. In order to recover or get assistance.

I read one comment from a man named Matt on the family’s fundraising page.

This saddens and frustrates me. I really don’t get the benefit of social media for teenagers. Most adults can’t even handle it responsibly. Kids like this, who probably already get picked on all day long during school hours, get sucked in to getting slammed on social media instead of discovering who and what in life motivates and fulfills them. No sure what the answer is.

I’m with that guy. I do not know the answer. But Connor’s family is raising money to fund bullying prevention. I sincerely hope that their efforts will assist young people and prevent another death. Maybe find an answer.

I honestly cannot imagine the family’s pain. Cannot. A nightmare of the worst kind.

This is their intro on the fund raising page.

Connor was a dynamic, witty, unforgettable young man. He was also an intensely private person. As he transitioned into adolescence, he struggled with peers invading that privacy in order to provoke a response . He had many spaces in which he felt safe and nurtured; others – including social media – proved overwhelming and harmful.   

No child should suffer marginalization; at the same time, the complexities of a “connected” world and its pathways to poor decisions can be difficult for adults and teens to navigate. As a result, the Tronerud family is committed to directing memorial resources towards funding for bullying prevention and self-harm awareness education in their area. The more we can equip peers, coaches, teachers, mentors, and friends to bolster those who are isolated, the more lives can be saved, and the sooner healing can begin. 

Thank you for offering your support to this worthy cause.

I wish you and your families a safe and secure place. Always continue to encourage kindness, compassion and caring in our children.

 

 

 

 

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Odd

Well, I certainly neglected this blog during the summer! So sorry!

But I did have a lovely time with friends and family.

Wasn’t all skittles and beer, of course. Life isn’t really like that.

Clearing out and packing up my beloved Dad’s clothing and other belongings. Accompanying Mom to pick out Dad’s headstone. And other things that needed tending.

But it was fine. It all got done. I just didn’t post those things on Facebook.

One morning, I was getting my first cup of coffee and Mom said, “When you get a chance have a look at this obituary.”

I said, “Sure.”

And grabbed the newspaper for a quick look.

I read it and said to her, “What on earth is that? I don’t even understand it.”

She was like, “I know, right? It’s the oddest obituary I have ever read.”

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My first thought was, “Why?”

Second thought was, “Why didn’t they call me? I could have done such a better job.”

Third thought was, “Oh my goodness, this had to have cost them between $800.00-$1,200!”

My Dad died in March and I know how much it cost to put his simple obituary in this same newspaper.

The minute I started reading it and saw “passed away due to a physical illness” I thought it was a bit off.

Anyway, it bothered me. I am not sure why but I kept thinking, “Is there no other way to publicly send off your loved one?”

They could have addressed his challenges- if they felt the need-in a very different way. And how’s this for a novel idea? Maybe cull some of his good? If it was all bad why even spend the money? For a possible few to be saved by Jesus? Take the money spent for the obituary and donate it directly to a cause that will help others.

I just don’t get it.

Maybe I am being a bit harsh or judgmental. I don’t know what this family’s life was like but I do know many families who have lost people who had challenges or who constantly challenged their families. And most of them focused on the good when their loved one’s life ended. The positive bits before or after the hardships.

That’s usually how it’s done.

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