A Couple of Good Obituaries

 

I realize I might as well still be in Italy for all you have heard from me since I returned. I'm sorry. It's not personal. Rather, I have a house full of family and friends and it's been a tad crazy since I returned. Although I did sit down long enough to write two good obituaries this week, which sounds odd, but they were both about people who were well loved and lived productive lives in spite of hardships. 

Mick McCarter (67) grew up in a steel town in PA in poverty with 20 brothers and sisters, he worked in the family business as a wall paper hanger until he took a trip to Alaska in the 1980s. He observed that so many Alaskans he met were living here by choice and creating purposeful lives and that appealed to him. "He was looking for a new identity" his wife Michele said, and he found it here as a friendly, community-minded man. (He also met and married Michele.) He became a much loved KHNS radio volunteer. When I was recovering in a Seattle nursing home following my bike accident, Mick visited me. That's the kind of guy he was. 

The other obituary was for a man who was always of this place, Tlingit story teller, Chilkat Dancer, and carver Charlie Jimmie (84) Haines own  "Living Cultural Treasure, " an honor he received from a prestigious Pacific Northwest arts organization in 1998. Turns out friendly, talented Charlie served time as a teenager in a federal penitentiary, and his friend Lee said, he also "Had a few rough years, but for the last 30 or so was proud that he was sober." I quoted Charlie himself from an interview he gave the museum a few years back about what made his life meaningful. He said, "I love to perform-- to dance. It's in my blood like jitterbugging used to be for the youngsters. It also makes me feel proud." He became a mentor to many, encouraging others to  feel or applaud that pride in tradition that came from being a living link to the stories and culture that's been here since, "time immemorial," --and as Lee said, "he had a lot of fun doing it."

 Mick's wife Michele said something else to think about. While Mick's death was sudden, it wasn't unexpected because had lived a long time with a serious heart condition. "We talked about it a lot. He was so content, so happy with where he was and what he was doing with his life that I don't think he had any regrets," she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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