Note to readers: Barry Schraders DeKalb
County Life column will appear every other Tuesday.
During the past few weeks my wife Kay and I have attended five
funerals of friends and relatives. It caused us to spend some
time reflecting on the inevitable day we all must face.
Christian memorial services follow similar formats, but
there are some changes with the new technology afforded us. Even
though it takes a lot of effort on the part of families, the
display boards are something I find helpful, as you learn more
about the deceased through photographs, awards, uniforms, mementos
and personal documents. Sometimes the addition of a scrapbook
helps to display such items more easily. A fairly recent innovation
is a slide show or video at the visitation or before the service,
which is another way of reminding friends and relatives of the
persons path through life.
The saddest occasions for me occur when a person has been
away from his or her hometown for many years, may not have any
close living relatives, and the clergy conducting the service
never had an opportunity to meet the person and can only read
the obituary from the pulpit as a remembrance. How can ones
life be summarized in 200 words?
The popularity of email and features such as Facebook,
Twitter and other social media has added another dimension to
memorializing loved ones. I read an article this past week in
the Wall Street Journal that discussed ways to celebrate
a life online, including sites such as Legacy.com, a partner
of the Daily Chronicle, where families can have obituaries published
online that can be viewed for months by friends near and far.
Other sites such as ForeverMissed.com and LifeStory.com go further
in allowing people to create personal web pages to build online
Getting back to the impact all these funerals have had
on us, Kay and I have spent considerable time recently poring
over family albums, carefully selecting favorite photos and documents,
so it wont fall on our children to make decisions on what
to include in a display when the time comes.
Something I hope to add is a personal comment or names and dates
attached to each photo. How many times have you gone through
a photo album from deceased family members and wondered who it
was in the picture, as well as where and when each picture was
Id like to conclude with an oft-quoted poem sent
to me by my friend Mil Misic of DeKalb, that really hits home.
Titled Around the Corner it was penned many years
ago by the late Henson Towne (1877-1949).
Around the corner I have a friend,
In this great city that has no end,
Yet the days go by, and the weeks rush on,
And before I know it, a year has gone.
And I never see my old friends face,
For life is a swift and terrible race,
He knows I like him just as well,
As in the days when I rang his bell,
And he rang mine, but we were younger then,
And now we are busy, tired men.
Tired of playing a foolish game,
Tired of trying to make a name.
Tomorrow, I say, I will call on Jim,
Just to show I am thinking of him.
But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes,
And distance between us grows and grows.
Around the corner, yet miles away,
Heres a telegram sir, Jim died today.
And thats what we get and deserve in the end.
Around the corner, a vanished friend.
NOTE: After this column was written another longtime friend
Ray Gibson of the Chicago Tribune died. After graduating from
NIU Ray joined me on the Daily Chronicle staff from 1970-72 and
then accepted a position on the paper in California where I had
gone in 1972. Ray returned to Illinois two years later and began
a long career with the Tribune.