Ken Beaton guest col: Don’t wait before it’s too late

Ken Beaton

Ken Beaton

Sadly, I’m at the age in which I faithfully read the obituaries in the Nevada Appeal six days a week. Maybe I’m selfish, but I would prefer to have a conversation with another person than read their written obituary. Call me different, but I’m saddened because I never knew about someone’s wonderful accomplishments until I read their obituary. It’s too late to tell them, “congratulations!”

On July 19, 2016, I returned home from an early exercise class to remove the rubber band from the Nevada Appeal to be shocked as I read about Marilee Swirczek’s passing. Instantly, it was Feb. 3, 1959, the day the music died. A radio announcer said, “Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P., ‘The Big Bopper,’ Richardson and the pilot had died when their plane crashed in a corn field in Clear Lake, Iowa.” Almost five years later, I was a salesperson at Sears. I watched as Walter Cronkite announced President Kennedy had died. Walter removed his glasses and wiped tears from his eyes as I wiped mine. Friday, Nov. 22, 1963 was the day Camelot died! Each of us has a day when we were shocked and in disbelief.

I can only imagine the emotions Ursula Carlson experienced as she wrote her commentary, “Marilee: Missed and unforgettable,” published in the Nevada Appeal on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016. A week later, Kathy Walters’ commentary, “The Wonder of Marilee Swirczek,” was equal to Ursula’s. Both writers must have pulled a number of Kleenexes from the box near their computers while writing their commentary.

Several years ago, I emailed Marilee I agreed with her excellent commentary in the Appeal. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a response from her thanking me for my email. Marilee was one of those rare persons who didn’t have an “ignore key,” on her keyboard. I would have liked to have known Marilee on the same level as Ursula and Kathy.

I was reminded of a story. A little more than 30 years ago in Carson City Patt Quinn-Davis had graduated from UNR and was a newspaper intern. She wrote a story for UPI. The Nevada Appeal printed Patt’s story about Rich, a postal worker in Carson City. He had about three months before cancer would claim his life. Rich made the decision to love. He arranged a venue, food, drinks and music for his wake before he passed away! Everyone shared their love and stories with Rich. Everybody was vertical at a wake!

Patt’s “feel good” UPI story received nationwide coverage. Rich’s estranged adult children read their dad’s story and contacted him. Let’s face it, how many people have the opportunity to attend their wake and reconcile with their children?

As I read Marilee’s obituary, a sad regret washed over me. So, I Googled, “You can’t say loving statements about someone until that person has died?” I wanted to see if there was a written rule or law. I selected the website, “10 Things you need to say before it’s too late.” I discovered why we become invertebrates when the time comes to say positive/loving statements to another person. “Love rarely ever knows its own depth until it’s taken away.”

My favorite book is, Living, Loving & Learning by Leo Buscaglia. He wrote, “No matter what the question, love is the answer.” On page 75, with permission Leo quoted a poem, “The Things You Didn’t Do.” written by a female during the late 60s or early 70s. Its website is Kleenex will be needed.

Felice Leonardo “Leo” Buscaglia, PhD was born in Los Angeles March 31, 1924. “Dr. Love” died in Glenbrook on June 12, 1998. Leo and I shared the same birth month and day.

Ken Beaton of Carson City contributes periodically to the Nevada Appeal.


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