Reading this Stranger’s Obituary Will Make Your Day

Janet Tuck was born in in Aurora, Illinois in December 1931.  She died two weeks ago, surrounded by family, in North Carolina.  I don’t know Janet or any of her family, but came across her obituary this morning while I was scrolling through Facebook.  A friend, also unknown to Janet or her family, had posted it after reading it in the Chicago Tribune.  Janet’s story moved her enough to share it. Hours later, I am still thinking about Janet and her life.  Man, what a good life.  Read it HERE, then come back so we can discuss.

Janet Tuck, 1931-2017, courtesy of obituary published in Chicago Tribune
Janet Tuck, 1931-2017, from obituary published in Chicago Tribune

Are you crying?  I cried the first time I read it, too.  As far as obituaries go, it is lovely and beautiful and sweet and such a touching tribute to memorialize Janet’s well lived life.  The sensitivity in which memory loss is treated felt like a gentle guiding hand of loving reassurance.  I spent a decade working in a retirement community, each day talking and interacting with older adults at various stages of dementia.  If you love someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you could only hope this type of compassionate empathy was offered them as they navigated through the shards of what is no longer a life they always recognize.

The wording of Janet’s obituary is like an invitation into her life, a dream sequence, a premonition of comfort.  It reads like settling in with a good book on a cold rainy day, blanket around your shoulders, cup of tea steaming at your side.  I salute the author who clearly wrote from a place of deep love and respect, a daughter I presume.  Having someone like that write your obituary is just another sign of a well lived life.

Janet seems so damn likable.  A perfect combination of artist and friend, equal measures of capable and adventurous.  We get to know her, albeit so briefly and superficially, as a daughter, a sister, an independent young career woman, a wife, a mother, a gifted artist and partner.  I want to know Janet more.  I want to be her daughter and her friend and her partner, too. Full disclosure, I kind of want to be Janet.

Us voyeurs only get a glimpse of her, a smiling young-ish face, head tossed back in wide smile.  She looks happy.  Genuinely happy. She looks free and self-possessed.  Reading about her life gives a window into how and why Janet is able to be all those things.  Are there lessons we can learn from reading about Janet’s life after her death?  Or is it merely enough to read about such a satisfying life and feel fortified, even via the medium of words on a screen?  I don’t honestly know.

Magic is mentioned in Janet’s obituary and that word feels especially appropriate.  Sometimes, when we’re lucky, life is magical. Reading about the life of Janet Tuck, a stranger to me, feels like a bit of magic.  I am inspired, reflective, content, just having learned about her life and the love that surrounded her.  That is, indeed, magic.

Rest well, Janet.  May you only know peace and sunshine and those who loved you be comforted by your memories.


You may see some of Janet Tuck’s art HERE.

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