86 – 96 – 90 – 88 – 82 – 96 – 91 – 44 – 82 – 70

One of these things is not like the others…ah, sweet memories of Sesame Street lessons about differences.

Well, these aren’t winning lottery numbers or a quarterback’s top secret audibles.

These numbers represent the spectrum of ages of community members who have died over the last few days and whose lives are represented by obituaries in today’s newspaper.

At first glance, some might consider the “44” to be the one that is not like the others.  This perspective might be based solely on age or on the amount of life yet to live.  But does that discount the experiences already attained by age 44?

Another perspective may be that the “96” is the outlier.  A person who has lived a “full” life and may have been “ready to die”.  Then again, maybe she wasn’t ready to die. Perhaps she felt she had more to do or say?

You really can’t judge the quality of life based on the quantity of it.  After all, people are more than the sum of their years, right?

Of these 10 individuals, five died in a hospital.  Five died in a skilled nursing facility.  One, according to the obituary, was “surrounded by family” at the time of her passing.  One was the “last of her family.”  One notes she is survived by a “special friend and caregiver.”

All of them (except the one who is the last of her family) are survived by brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, husband, wives, in-laws, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and/or great-grandchildren.  Some are now following loved ones who died before them.

A healthcare worker.  A farmer.  A seamstress.  A retail store clerk.  A secretary. A supervisor.  A homemaker.  A Wesleyan.  A Catholic.  A Methodist.  Two Lutherans.  A Presbyterian. A member of the Church of Christ.  One made Barbie doll clothes.  Two worked at SUNCOM.  Square dancing.  Embroidery.  Crocheting.  Ceramics and needlework.  Auxiliary member.  Grange member.  Gardening.  Devote to family.  Devoted to children.  Loved her pet cats.

They or their families encourage donations in their memory to a spectrum of beneficiaries:  Church.  Cancer Society.  Library.  Education Foundation.  SPCA.  Hospice.  Park Fund.

Given these wide ranging descriptors, each of them could be the “one not like the others.”  Age doesn’t define us.  The cause or place of our death doesn’t define us.  What DOES define us are the values and decisions by which we live our lives until the final tally becomes a column in the local newspaper.  What will the world learn about you when your obituary is printed?

Caring Choices understands that each person at some point is “not like the others.”  Individuality, personal values and beliefs, and fear of the unknown can greatly influence our end-of-life decisions. The decisions we make will have lasting impact on those whom we are “survived by.”

(c) 2014 Caring Choices

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