A few weeks back I read an obituary of a famous scientist who had died at the age of 97.  I read the obits every day-at least the ones where there is an article about the deceased. It’s a good day when most of the unfortunates are a lot older than I am.  Not so good when they’re younger.  The worst is when someone exactly my age has died.  This wears on me in a number of ways.  First, clearly they’ve accomplished enough of something or been notorious enough to be written about.  Based on my life to date, that doesn’t seem to be in my future.  And of course, their being the same age as I am and biting the dust belies my ever-diminishing feeling of being immortal…..or a least having a lot of time to do and be all that I can be.   I feel a palpable sense of relief when I read something about them that reveals that, apart from being my exact age, we are very different.  If they’ve spent their lives in a rural setting (mine has been urban) that’s helpful.  If they’re very rich that’s a distinction that helps, as well.  I’m right handed so I look for any signs that the deceased was a southpaw.  This, I guess, is my way of being in denial.


But to get back to the old scientist.  At the end of the obituary when his next of kin were addressed, it was mentioned that his former wife survived him.   They had divorced in 2002 after 63 years of marriage.  Now,   THIS really got my attention.  I’m pretty good with math so I quickly figured out that at the age of 90 with 63 years of marital bliss or not behind them, this marriage had ended.  I’ve tried to figure out how that happened and what led up to it.  For some reason I imagined the scientist and his wife having breakfast every morning with each reading a part of the morning paper.   Probably at a café table overlooking a man-made lake. Very civilized…almost genteel.  He or she lowers the paper, leans over towards the other and looks over the top of his or her reading glasses and says something like, “You know, this just isn’t working for me.  I’m just not that into you anymore”.  What else could it be?  Another woman….another man?  I suppose that’s possible but there was nothing in the obituary that pointed in that direction.


Of course this split may have been building for more than a half century.   I had been in a long term marriage (at least I thought it was long term- I’m a piker compared to these people) so I know how walls of resentment and an accumulation of small slights can build up over time.  Is it possible that the tipping point (must see if Malcolm Gladwell has anything on this) had been reached by one of these spouses?  That one (or possibly both) could no longer tolerate being with the other?  Of course it’s also possible that they had been unhappy for a very long time and were just one of those couples who had agreed to stay together until the kids died.  I’d love to know.












4 Responses to “obituary”

  1. Neil Basescu Says:

    me too!

  2. Richard Berger Says:

    Perhaps one too many kinky sexual demands was the last straw.

  3. Sharon Says:

    I’m still laughing about staying together “until the kids died”.It is indeed something to ponder. Perhaps he felt his impending demise and felt that he wanted to take one last stand…so many of us are afraid to belly up to the truth, even if it’s undermining our reality.So kudos for the old geezer…he probably died with a smile on his face.

  4. claudia Says:

    THAT was funny.

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