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Epilogue Respectfully dedicated to the people of the obituaries, whose paths have crossed mine, if only for a while, to teach me about the world of the obituaries, where one path ends for another to begin. This has been a journey I have taken with the deceased who populate the obituary world, and with their families as well. I wish to thank them for the opportunity I have had to be with them in that world for more than ten years. I remember their names, except those women who lost theirs in the world of the obituaries. I remember their faces, particularly those of the martyrs in the Persian newspapers (whom I did not study but whose presence was so clear) and of the women in black (chador). I will always remember the joy I felt every time I found more Egyptian women with their names, American women with their professions, and Iranian women mentioned at all. I will always remember Mrs. Richardson as she was identified in the New York Times staff-written announcement of her death, whose story I wanted to include in the text but could not find an appropriate context for it until now. On March 14, 1938, the New York Times obituary page included the following headline: “Mrs. Richardson’s Funeral,” with the subhead, “Special to theNewYorkTimes.”Theobituarymakestheusualannouncementsoflocation and time of services, even the name of the clergy conducting the service. It identifies the deceased as Mrs. Charles F. P. Richardson, and then describes the time and place of her death. The obituary, written by the newspaper staff, announces the arrival to Newport of her survivors: Mrs. Townsend Phillips of New York, a niece; Mrs. Herbert C. Pell of Tuxedo Park, New York, her sisterin -law; and Mr. and Mrs. Clarence C. Pell of Westbury, Long Island, the latter a nephew. The family obituary of Mrs. Richardson appears a day earlier in the New York Times. From that we find out her name and identity. She is actually Charlotte Lathrope Pell, widow of Charles P. Richardson. We get to know more about her here. She was the last surviving member of her immediate 281 282 Epilogue family, but her nephew Herbert C. Pell Jr. was at the time U.S. minister to Portugal and a former member of Congress. Mr. Richardson, her husband, was a member of the U.S. diplomatic corps during the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt, when he served as secretary of the embassy at Berlin and in Brazil. Later he was chargé d’affaires in Denmark. I felt sorry for Mrs. Richardson but happy I found her family obituary. I found out her name and was grateful to her family for that. More important is that her family identified her with her maiden, not married, name. They retained her identity for her in her death, unlike the New York Times staff. I will always remember the disappointment, perhaps even anger, I felt every time I realized that the world of the obituaries, too, is gendered and culture differentiated. It did not seem fair, and it still does not. We, the living, have created it; there is no one else to blame. Have we created it in our own image? Perhaps, then, we can examine ourselves through the world of obituaries we have created and ask what it all means. What does it say about us, as individuals and as culture groups? What legacy do we leave behind? What does the New York Times’ obituary of Mrs. Richardson mean? What does the family obituary of Charlotte Lathrope Pell mean? This has also been a personal journey for me. My father became part of the obituary world in 1993, when I was halfway through this project and while he was in the United States. He had asked to stay in Minneapolis, a city he had grown to love. And we let him be. But I will always remember the story behind his obituary and the cultural differences that emerged between the part of the family in the United States and the other part in Egypt as we wrote his obituary. The part of the family in the United States wrote an obituary announcing the death. The obituary was written within the appropriate religious frame, but after some discussion among the younger group, it was decided to include only immediate family, perhaps also aunts and uncles I cannot recall, but not jobs or titles. This, it was said, would be too...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780814336557
Related ISBN
9780814327555
MARC Record
OCLC
763158708
Pages
336
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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