I’ve found my attention to their joys wavers. A beloved brother-in-law and a wonderful neighbor happened to die on my late mother’s birthday. Both my parents deaths in mid-May and burials before Memorial weekend are decades old but those later deaths still weigh heavy. For spring cleaning, I am letting go of obits I’d collected from The Economist, for no reason other than they were good.
They included the runner from Pakistan/India, called “The Flying Sikh, age 90 or 91; a former U. S. secretary of defense, 88; a Greek composer, poet, and political activist, 96; a theoretical physicist, 88; a quirky British inventor, 81; and the man who photographed Rodney King’s beating, 61.
A brilliant, innovative New York City lyricist and composer, 91; the small-town Kansas boy who became a WWII veteran, lawyer, and Republican leader for 35 years, 98; an innovative South African Shakespearean actor, 72; one of the surviving Tuskegee Airmen, 102; the Vietnamese Buddhist monk and ”father of mindfulness,” 95; the male adventurer who crossed the Atlantic several times in unusual contraptions, 75.
An average-guy satirist, author and editor, 74; a Crimean expat in Ukraine, actor, media star and soldier, 33; an impulsive and daring Australian cricket star, 52; the Bolivian soldier who was ordered to kill Che Guevara and afterward lived as anonymously as possible, 80; and the Steinway piano tuner of choice for Arthur Rubenstein, Van Cliburn, Glenn Gould and Vladimir Horowitz and others.
Roxane Gay’s dedication to her story collection Difficult Women (2017) is appropriate: “For difficult women, who should be celebrated for their very nature.” It honors the Jewish widow who placed her own name and 1,200 others on Schindler’s list, 107; the woman who was the first to promote artisan cheese, in the U.S., 40; and the woman, known for wearing a bright red coat, who was a spy for the Italians and the British during WWII, 96. I noticed while writing that I didn’t think I had to add man or male to most of them, but once I defined the few women, I had to ponder my assumptions.
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