The local newspaper is delivered to me 4x each week. When I get it, I read it all. That includes the obituaries. The thing is, I am new to this town so it’s not like back home where every other day someone I know or am related to is dying or dead (or being born or getting married…)
So, this obituary was two columns wide and really long. Lots of words. A photo of a very pretty lady. The words were very poetic and magical. I think they were her words. She talked about the family grocery, then a paragraph was devoted to her ‘beloved’ father, her steps that took her to the nunnery until that didn’t feel right anymore. Then her quest next led to graduate school… The next quarter of a century she conducted basic research in neuroscience and eventually retired as Professor Emerita. She started her own business, spoke, wrote, published books and so much more.
I did not know this woman but I wish I had. She lived a colorful life and in the end requested the following: In lieu of flowers, and in recognition of the generativity which coursed through her life, the family requests that those wishing to honor her pay kindness forward to three other individuals.
Why I read this, why it touched a cord, why I kept it, the article, why I had to write about it? Even in death, this woman is giving to others by asking us to reach out and pay something forward as a gift to her. If only a handful of her family or “groundswell of devoted friends” as the obituary read reached out and paid a kindness forward then her essence lives on. And if each person paid it forward THREE times then the world would be a bit easier for someone, for no real reason.
She’s gone, right? And yet she created a web of web of giving. That she can do that in her death makes me wonder what crusades and undertakings she accomplished prior to departing.
I know we all have our own stories and nobody really knows the story of the person next to them – but if there were some way to know more – count me in.
So, what is it I don’t know about you? What is the event, illness, struggle, joy, friendship or woe that got you to this very place in time? For many, it was the turning point in our lives. For others it might be a goal that was reached and lessons learned along the way. This beautiful, wonderful woman had TONS of stories – and this is just one more.
generativity (google dictionary) In Erik Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development, generativity is a struggle against stagnation that ascends during adulthood.
in the psychosocial sense refers to the concern for establishing and guiding the next generation and is said to stem from a sense of optimism about humanity.
- Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development (lynnmunoz.wordpress.com)
- The Eight Stages of Life (ginzandtonic.com)
- 9 Of The Most Incredible Obituaries Ever Written (funeralone.com)
- Why I Like to Read Obituaries (leslienotes.typepad.com)
21 thoughts on “A Sense of Optimism About Humanity”
A lovely post and seems that this was a lovely person… paying it forward to three people would be awesome…what a neat request!… and just remember…it doesn’t have to be pay forwarded right now!…as the opportunity knocks…do it!
what a delightful obituary . this woman sounds truly unforgettable.
not sure why WP decided I should be incognito!
Great post Marge Katherine. Thank you for sharing. I often think of writing my memoirs, but never sit down to start. The woman you write about has left a beautiful legacy and I love the pay it forward suggestion. Did you ever read the book “Pay it Forward” by Catherine Ryan Hyde? It is a great story.
She sounds like an amazing woman and thank you for sharing with us!
You are right, the payment forward can come next month, and the next month, and the next… Thanks for the advice!
No, I have not read Pay it Forward but will add it to my list of books to read. I did see a movie years ago that was pretty touching. It will be good to read it and walk away with a new concept of sharing love. Much appreciation!
There was a movie made of the same book by Catherine Ryan Hyde. However, I was very disappointed the way the movie ended. I wrote to Catherine and asked why the movie ended so bad. She told me the book does not end that way, so I read it and the ending was so much better.
Sounds like an inspirational woman!
Thanks for sharing this with me! I will seek out the book and read it as well. Much appreciation!
you are welcome
Thank you for sharing this inspiring story!
Hello. I found a comment from you on my blog that had been sent to my spam folder (last year sometime!) and so I found my way to your blog.
You have a great blog and this post is uplifting.
I have read of Erikson’s stages. Knowing that there are such stages has helped me resolve a few issues in my life.
Hi Marge, I have had several turning points in my life. When I overcame depression myself. When I was made redundant for the second time, and knew I was born to write and help others who have been made redundant to get back into work. When I learned to love myself and like myself no matter what. When I decided to lead a quirky and unconventional life and not care what others think, but embrace it.
Feel free to share your blog posts on my new http://www.facebook.com/BlogtrainerUK page or use #blogquirky on Twitter
It’s taking our ‘failures’ and turning them into lessons that makes all the difference. Overcoming depression and helping others into a job after you lost yours 2x that’s pretty powerful. Thanks so much for sharing your stories and commenting on my blog posts!
Hi Marge, thank you so much for your kind and supportive comments. I am feeling very happy about that.
I just randomly clicked on your blog … I am happy that I found one blog that I can read for betterment 🙂
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Very nice write-up. I certainly appreciate this
website. Keep writing!
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