Mulling things on my morning ramble
with Storm, the family’s mixed Lab.
Peanut butter, Spam. Fishing rods. A powerline.
These were among the things collected at the front yesterday afternoon at the memorial for Willie Greene.
It is good to have variety define your life.
A great blue heron took off from the neckdown between the two town ponds as the meathead and I approached this morning. That is usually a sign of a shift toward the fall. There is something that changes in the water around the start of fall that must bring bait fish shallower on the town pond.
I used to hate writing obits, absolutely dreaded it.
At my first full-time sports writing gig with Suburban Life Newspapers in the western suburbs, my sports editor, Jim O’Connell, absolutely loved doing obits. I thought he was nuts.
He would sit there and lovingly craft a story about a person’s life. Jim has since moved on to do several roles at Morton College.
Any good reporting is about probing into the personal at some level. Obits always seemed like crossing some line.
But I learned.
I think the breakthrough came when my mom died and a few days after I returned Henry Palmisano from Henry’s Sports and Bait died. It really hit me hard.
Henry I knew on a professional level and spoke to nearly on a weekly basis. But I also knew him as an oddity in the bait/fishing business who had no qualms about expressing his progressive, even liberal, views. Often much like my own.
There was no way I could just do an impersonal obit for him.
Another box of ground bait arrived yesterday from my friend who is pursuing an odd non-native fish he discovered in our town pond. I sometimes wonder if the postal workers wonder about me. As I sprinkled the ground bait this morning, as usual trying to keep the meathead from charging into the water (he thinks it is a throw-and-fetch game), a belted kingfisher flew from the overhanging bush. It must have been a good morning for fishing. And that would make sense with the gray overcast and incoming storms.
From Henry’s obit on, I found obits a lot easier to write. In part, I have learned I can delve into all the professional details I need to get and still have true empathy for the family spokesman.
Doing the Willie Greene obit, I talked with his daughter Stacey Greene-Fenlon a good bit. I’ve known Stacey 15 years. My concern was with getting the story right on Willie, but also being equally concerned with how she was doing.
It’s a big deal when you are the only child and have to handle everything.
By the railroad tracks on the way back to town, dozens of doves, with a few barn pigeons mixed in, exploded from a patch of weeds by the gravel on the other side of the tracks.