Wednesday, June 8, 2011
"The Longest-Lived Survivor"
I'm afraid of death. Or more specifically, I'm afraid of losing people I love. So I avoid the obits as a reminder of the inevitable.
Except when I was pregnant, when I would quickly scan the obit pages looking for interesting names to use for my soon-to-arrive babies. Even then, I still didn't read the actual obituary. And I never found quite the right name, either.
But today, as I was flipping through the paper, one of the obits caught my eye. Maybe it was the pretty photograph of the deceased, possibly it was the length of her hyphenated name. For some reason, I started reading it.
"Elizabeth Kathryn Herring-Shapiro, called Betty Kaye by most of her family and BK by her husband and countless dear friends, passed away Friday morning, June 3, shortly after sunrise. At the time of her passing at the age of 66, she was thought to be the longest-lived survivor of cystic fibrosis in the nation and perhaps the world."
And then I started to cry.
That she lived to age 66, the obit says, is a testament to both medicine and her "unwavering faith in God, miracles and the power of prayer." I found some hope in the very full life she lived in those 66 years, with a career that ranged from New York model to Governor's special assistant to international tour director. She must have been a great friend to many and was clearly loved by her family.
When we walk in the Great Strides walk each year to raise funds to cure cystic fibrosis, it's not for some broad, altruistic reason. It's for this very specific goal:
I'm counting on never seeing the obit for Jack's buddy. But when it's printed (assuming there's still such a thing as "print"), I want it to say that at the ripe old age of 101, after a rich and successful life, he was the longest-lived survivor of cystic fibrosis.
Photo from the N&O obituaries.