Precious memories: How they linger
by Jim Ruth Bradley County Sheriff
Feb 02, 2014 | 712 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jim Ruth
Jim Ruth
Like most folks, I have found as the grandkids come along, life begins to change. You learn about electronic games, dolls, cats, dogs, Disney characters and all kinds of rock stars all over again.

Nowadays there are all kinds of pizza and fast foods you learn to love and eat. Well, at least tolerate. Then, there are the plastic or paper cups and paper towels that are always handy to have around.

When the little ones come to visit, you catch up on your exercise regimen just trying to keep up with them. I am not complaining, mind you — I am grateful for them and appreciate the energy, enthusiasm, optimism and life they bring to my house.

This time in my life is a good time.

Another thing I do at this stage in my life that I didn’t do as a younger man is read the obituaries. Many people say that is the first thing they do when they open the paper.

This is neither morbid, nor funny.

A number of my mentors, teachers, preachers, neighbors and others who have influenced my life over the years are reaching the age where they die of natural causes. A few of my younger friends have died because of illness or tragic accidents.

When these folks pass away, the obituary columns list their achievements, life experiences, job experiences, hobbies, the joys of life, along with family ties, as the loved one is memorialized.

I am often pleasantly surprised by the reporting of the many good acts and deeds the deceased one has done for others. Although, I appreciate the friendship the deceased person and I shared, it is always heartening to learn of another dimension or two possessed by this person.

The obituary is an important document for the bereaved family members and friends. You will find old, yellow copies of obituaries tucked away in family bibles or in a drawer or box containing the family’s most important papers.

As an act of goodwill a local, unrelated business owner often would cut the obituary out of the paper, laminate it and mail it to the family for a keepsake.

Children who have lost a mother or father or sibling have drawn a lot of comfort as they reread and relive the memories of their dearly departed. People have taken this little link with the past out of their files and shared it with their children and grandchildren.

It is a sacred document; a family document that is cherished even by those who seem to be otherwise unaffected. These few paragraphs that herald the life and announce the death of the loved one create a very important document. It provides information for our community, comfort for those who mourn and it becomes a part of written history for the family.

The Banner is apparently very much aware of the need for the obituary column, as it is placed near the front of the paper.

On the lighter side, an older brother to one of our longtime residents retired here a few years back. He did not bring his wife with him, because they were in a contentious divorce. He lost his assets to her in the divorce. The man had had enough of the situation, so he gave her the new truck, the new house, half of his pension and half of his Social Security money.

He lived here for a few years before cancer struck him down. He voiced how bad the deal was that he had made and really needed the money. He had the Social Security check and pension delivered to Tennessee.

The ex-wife who was also drawing money from two other ex-husbands started calling for him during this time that his health was spiraling downward.

The dying man had asked to be cremated. This brother of the dying man asked permission from him to let the ex-wife run her fingers through the ashes to see if she might retrieve some gold fillings. Well, they had a good laugh over that. Their sense of humor helped them get through the dark days.

What has that got to do with being sheriff?

I deal with life-and-death issues at some level every day. That causes me to go down many mental rabbit trails, as I think on those things that bring quality of life to our people.

It is the many little qualities that make the big picture.

Thanks for reading.