Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Noble Task

WORDguy writes: An obituary is an official document (for which newspapers charge extraodinary fees in times of bereavement, which is a different story...) to announce a person's death. It may review a life’s accomplishments and achievements. It can say—or at least acknowledge—nice things about spouses, siblings, parents, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and grandchildren.

Too often—speaking as someone who has written too many obits—these official statements can be bland, dull, formulaic, sounding as if the "dear beloved" is some kind of crate of beef or other load that has somehow been lost at the side of the road.

My obit for my mother, Lillian, which appeared on the WORD Monday, is not nearly snazzy enough to reflect how I remember her and her life. It did not include grandchildren and her Chamber of Commerce medals. But it also did not include her dancing in sneakers to Musak down the frozen food aisle, humiliating her children.

I cannot say how grateful I am to the more than 200 WORDsters—my extended family—who responded so beautifully to my announcement of her death. My obit was not formulaic, and maybe inappropriate for some news outlets. Fair enough. But my mom was hilarious, caring, passionate, and liked a good laugh. That’s how I will remember her.

Thank you all for your good thoughts.
Now, back to the WORD.

Do Good Works

“I have a job to do, a noble task that I must not, cannot ignore. I have decided to be a journalist.”


—Rabiah Abdullah, high school student

• Editorial Comment: See? There is hope after all.

PeezPix by Ted Pease 
California Poppy


TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM is a free “service” sent to the 1,800 or so misguided subscribers around the planet. If you have recovered from whatever led you to subscribe and don’t want it anymore, send “unsubscribe” to Or if you want to afflict someone else, send me the email address and watch the fun begin. (Disclaimer: I just quote ’em, I don’t necessarily endorse ’em. But all contain at least a kernel of insight. Don’t shoot the messenger.) 
Ted Pease, Professor of Interesting Stuff, Utah State University, Logan, Utah.
(Be)Friend Dr. Ted, Professor of Interesting Stuff

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” —Tom Stoppard


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