Sunday, April 16, 2017


Does anyone else out there read the obituaries? For the past couple of years I get my papers online (despite my last rant against things digital.) I get The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle - that is what I can afford. I scan through most articles, but I notice that what I read faithfully, and avidly, are the obituaries. In South Africa the Rand Daily Mail had a classified section in which were posted names of the newborns, the newly wed, and the recently deceased. This section was known as 'hatched, matched, and dispatched." It always garnished a lot of attention in my family. The dispatched section was not nearly as comprehensive as the obituaries are here. They drily showed the name of the dear departed and the date on which they died. We were left in the dark as to the details of their lives. Likewise for the hatched and matched. Since my arrival in the States, I have been fascinated by the obituary notices. I am known to sob when reading about untimely deaths, diseases endured, magnificent achievements of the deceased. Many of whom apparently devoted much of their lives to animals, to horticulture, to good works. As I grow older, I am constantly horrified by the large number of deaths of my equals, or those far younger. Sometimes I observe rather grimly that most of the deaths are of my age group. On the odd occasion when people do reach at least their allotment of three score years and ten, or far more, I am not so saddened by their passing. When I read these obituaries I would like to know the reasons for the passing of my cohorts, or those younger. Their loved ones do not always offer this information. I am left having to imagine the reasons for their untimely passing. Needless to say, my imaginings are not happy ones. Some people seem to have lived lives of enormous scholastic achievement. Many married the "loves of their lives" and apparently raised large, closeknit loving families whilst they traveled, studied, played sports, played musical instruments, taught and did endless good deeds. Others managed to marry several successful times. My sister visited a few years ago at the time I still received the daily newspaper in its normal form. (will the name newspaper change?) She pored over the obituaries as avidly as I did - (a possible genetic link?) She laughed at a description of a mother who had died in the fullness of her years. Her children stated that she ate copious amounts of ice cream. This was something our own mother did in her latter years. Well, that's all for now, I have to read today's obituaries.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


This evening I returned from a lovely walk at the Berkeley Marina and, as the sun began its descent over my view of Mt. Tam, I turned on the local news. The name of a 29 year old mother of two appeared on the screen. She was shot dead this morning in Richmond in front of her 2 toddlers. I saw her name flash across the screen and gasped. I felt my stomach drop down toward my shaking legs. My heart beat faster, and I gasped for breath. It can't be the Rashonda I know. Please, no. Is she 29 now? I wasn't sure, but somewhere in the close vicinity. Could she have children? Yes, she could. The details of her life and how we met played in my brain. My mind flooded with painful memories. Her family, the shocking murder of her adopted toddler brother. I remembered their home, the parents, the brothers. The details of all she and her mother went through were still crystal clear in my mind. I remembered meeting them years later in different circumstances. They lived in a housing project - bare to the bones. I remember seeing her cross MacDonald Avenue one day in the pouring rain. She was coming out of school and didn't have any raingear. I wanted to stop and hand her an umbrella but the light changed and there were impatient drivers behind me. No, please no, don't let it be her. Her mother cannot take much more. I know there are other women with the same name. If it is not her, then it is someone else with the same name. A young woman, shot dead in front of her children. It is not the Rashonda I know, and all I can think is to thank God, but I do pray for the children and family of the young woman who was murdered. Tonight's total upset has got me thinking about the nature of PTSD and how it can even take just one word, or one sound, or one small event, and one's nervous system and internal alerts and defenses get to work and unhinge one. And this womens toddlers saw this all happen. And the cycle doesn't end.