THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
From My Window
Issue Date: July 20, 2016
"Til Death Do Us Part
By Jane Thibodeau Martin,
I read a daily and a weekly (of course the Times!) newspaper almost cover to cover " so at least 8 papers per week. One of my favorite parts of the paper is the obituaries. That may seem a bit morbid, but I find it fascinating, and in most cases, uplifting, to read about the lives of people I don't know at all. Of course it's hard to read obituaries of very young people, or those who die tragically. But many of the obituaries are loving tributes to ordinary men and women being recognized for their hard work, successful lives, contributions to society, and as fierce caregivers and guardians of their families.
One of the phenomena I have noticed in doing this for decades, is that it is more common than could be coincidental for long-married people to die within a week of one another. A recent obituary in Tulsa listed the wife, in her late 80's dying, and within 48 hours her husband, in his early 90's, passed away as well. I have seen similar situations in the Peshtigo Times, and have heard many people talking about this happening to someone in their church, family, or neighborhood. I'll bet a lot of you reading this column know of someone that this happened to.
I was reminded of this while going through my father's papers, where we found an original clipping from the Peshtigo paper from the year 1952. It noted the death of my great-grandfather, Edward Thibodeau, on a Friday night in 1952 at 87, causing the cancellation of the funeral of his wife Mary, my great-grandmother, already scheduled for the very next morning. She'd passed away on Wednesday. Instead, a double funeral was scheduled for Monday, for the couple wed for 64 years, and died less than three days apart.
Often when this happens people will say "He/she died of a broken heart" when their long-time spouse passes away. And that may be true. But when I hear about my great-grandparent's lifetime partnership, I prefer to think of it as him finally giving in to his worn-out body, knowing that his life's work in taking care of his wife was complete. "Well done, good and faithful servant. Come to your rest."
It's not the same when a husband and wife are parted when one of them dies while they are both relatively young. There is still work to do, perhaps, taking care of children, or elderly parents, and the surviving spouse wills themselves to pick themselves up and go on. They grieve, maybe for the rest of their lives, but know that their "job" on earth is not yet finished; they have more to give; and that the spouse will be waiting for them when the right time comes.
Instead of thinking about a broken heart causing such husband/wife deaths, which makes me sad; I prefer to think it is an incredible tribute to the strength of their bond, which they continue to honor as they leave this world for a better place.