Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Obituaries

May 22, 2013

Another memoir to read this summer

Greensburg — Recently, I had recommended that you read Rod Dreher’s bestseller “The Little Way of Ruthie Leming”, but who could predict I would soon pick up a copy of Christopher Buckley’s “Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir”?

The two books are almost twins, which means I owe a few words in this space about the latter.

Never before had I reason to marvel at the complicated reportage of goodness. As Dreher had examined the wholesome life of his devout sister, though not without something of an edge and a lot of self-reflection as to what her life now meant, looking back, Buckley recounts the last years of his celebrity parents with a reflexive and at times exasperated air.

To be sure, Ruthie had been a small-town girl with modest ambition and only local renown, whereas Bill Buckley and his stunning wife Pat were feted by presidents, royalty, monsignors, and movie stars. Reading the two books back-to-back, from the smallest village in backwater Louisiana to the globe-trotting whirl of the rich-and-famous, can feel like being whipsawed.

In both instances, however, the writers have reason as survivors to pause and put into perspective the deaths that gave meaning to such lives and to display in gripping fashion what people think when somebody close to you dies. We rush about our days, then escape into the television or online, yet the death of a loved one arrests our minds and holds us – however briefly – so that we might look anew at our life’s trajectory.

Christopher Buckley ponders what it must mean to be a great man, given that he grew up in the shadow of one and had occasion to witness others up close. And the author struggles, as I most certainly did, with the inference that you will never measure up to your old man. But then Buckley stumbles onto what is a more relevant question for most of us: what does it mean to be a not a great man, but a good one?

Full disclosure: I had admired William F. Buckley, Jr., since high school. I always included him in my short pantheon of intellectual heroes, and I accumulated most of his books – which is a long, long shelf at my studio. Maybe it belongs to the sons of great men to pay attention in earnest to what it really means to have been great and (if they are sufficiently gifted for the task) to share what they have learned.

Both Dreher and Buckley (the son) are terrific writers, though I was taken as much by their disclosures of spiritually restless lives, less assured than their subjects about the one true faith, but maybe more attuned to the experience of being. There is something to be said for those who simply share what it’s like to live in the in-between, in the encounter.

Buckley tells plenty of rollicking good tales, capturing the spirit of his high-flying parents, as well as painful accounts of their failings and faltering. The book is something of an act of filial piety that happens to make you laugh out loud at times and choke with grief at others. I’m convinced that if you buy both of these for a relaxed weekend – and I’m convinced you will complete them that quickly — you will emerge Monday a more thoughtful person.

I would go one step further. You will be ennobled. Now, that word “ennobled” sounds awfully stuffy in our day and age, and some of you will scoff, but men have known since antiquity the power of great lives well told. I testify to such an experience after reading these books. It is almost that I was meant to encounter them together, now. Why is that?

 

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Obituaries
  • obt-gb072414-jerry lee mann - pic Jerry Lee Mann, 75 Jerry Lee Mann, 75, of Greensburg, passed away Tuesday, July 22, 2014, at St. Andrews Health Campus, Batesville.Jerry was born in Grant County, March 24, 1939, to Jack Norman and Vera A. (Poindexter) Mann.Jerry worked for MiTech and Smith Implements

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Phyllis Jean Chitwood, 89 April 23, 1925 - July 20, 2014 Phyllis Jean Chitwood, 89, of Greensburg, passed away Sunday, July 20, at Decatur County Memorial Hospital. Phyllis was born April 23, 1925 in Sharpsville, the daughter of Park and Marjorie Snyder. On May 9, 1946, she married Kenneth Chitwood in Kala

    July 22, 2014

  • James Lee Meyers, 69 Sept. 9, 1944 - July 18, 2014 James Lee Meyers, 69, New Castle, died Friday, July 18, 2014, among family.Born: Sept. 9, 1944, Batesville, to Edna (Denker) and Aloise E Meyers.Married: Nancy A. (Norrick) Meyers April 10, 1985.Graveside Service: East Brook Cemetery, Milroy, 10 a.m.

    July 22, 2014

  • Jack Kenneth Branstutter, 75 Aug. 28 1938 – July 19, 2014 Jack Kenneth Branstutter, 75, of North Vernon, passed away Saturday, July, 19, 2014.Jack was a United States Army veteran, and retired from Print Pack in Greensburg after 25 years of service.Cremation was chosen following Jack’s wishes. Newcomer Fune

    July 22, 2014

  • Viola Mae Pickett, 102 Sept. 15, 1911 - July 18, 2014 Viola Mae Pickett, 102, of Holton, passed away Friday, July 18, 2014.Visitation was from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday at Neal’s Funeral Home, Osgood.Funeral services begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 22, at the funeral home. Doors open at 9 a.m.Burial in Holton C

    July 22, 2014

  • obt-gb072214-beverly hawkins-clark pic Beverly Ann Hawkins-Clark, 79 Jan. 9, 1935 - July 19, 2014 Beverly Ann (Haas) Hawkins-Clark, 79, of Plattsmouth, Nebraska passed away Saturday, July 19, 2014 in Bellevue, Nebraska.Beverly was born Jan. 9, 1935 to Lawrence Francis and Violet May (Land) Haas in North Bend, Ohio. She was raised in Madison and G

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • obt-gb072214-beverly gardner obit and pic Beverly J. Gardner, 78 Jan. 8, 1936 - July 19, 2014 Beverly J. Gardner, 78, Greensburg, passed away Saturday, July 19, 2014, at Heritage House Nursing Home in Greensburg.Born Jan. 8, 1936, in Hannibal, Missouri, she was the daughter of Edward “Whitey” Alexander and Ida M. (McCann) Turner.She was a 195

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • obt-gb071914-leland hood obit pic Leland E. "Pid" Hood, 88 July 13, 1926 - July 17, 2014 Leland E. “Pid” Hood, 88, of New Castle, passed away Thursday, July 17, 2014 at Henry County Hospital. He was born July 13, 1926 in Greensburg, to the late Charles and Bessie Mabel (Robbins) Hood.Leland was a great husband, father, grandfather and gr

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • obt-gb071914-abigail baker obit pic Abigail Marie "Abbi" Baker, 29 Aug. 18, 1984 - July 13, 2014 Abigail Marie “Abbi” Baker, 29, of Indianapolis, passed away Sunday, July 13, 2014 at her residence. She was born Aug. 18, 1984 in Columbus, the daughter of Marvin Baker and the late Martha Jo McCullough. She was raised and lived most of her life in

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Harry G. Redfern, 94 Sept. 22, 1919 - July 16, 2014 Harry G. Redfern, 94, of Osgood, passed away Wednesday, July 16, 2014.Visitation is from 10 a.m. until time of funeral service at noon Saturday, July 19, at Neal’s Funeral Home, Osgood.Burial follows in Greendale Cemetery in Osgood.Memorials to donor

    July 18, 2014