Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives.--A. Sachs
I guess this reveals a bizarre side to my personality, but one of my favorite end of the year rituals is the review of "Notable Deaths". Now I don't mean this in an "I'm glad you're gone you rascal you" way, rather I just love watching the snippets of lives of those that departed this past year.
Sometimes I am totally shocked and it's the first I have heard of the news. In other cases it serves as a nice reminder of someone whose work I enjoyed and now I will miss that. A lot of people died in 2011, many of them old and Death's knock on the door was expected, but many others were young and that is always a shock no matter how recklessly they lived their lives.
I will really miss the writings of Christopher Hitchens, he was a rare bird indeed. Amy Winehouse the young singer with the throaty voice, I will miss her, especially on her good days.
Others like Ken Russell and Sidney Lumet, both directors leave behind great works. Elizabeth Taylor is another one, so many great films and a life full of good deeds, she, I would imagine will be remembered and missed by many people.
There were many sports figures that died this year but I would have to single out Duke Snider, the center fielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers. I remember hearing him play baseball on the radio. And there was another sound heard and that was the great Joe Marello, jazz drummer with Dave Brubeck.
And the departed list included people who did great things with their lives and leave this world a better place because they were here. People like R. Sargent Shriver, founder of the Peace Corps and there was Kip Tiernan, founder of Rosie's Place, the first shelter for homeless women.
There was Jack LaLanne, fitness guru and living example of eating and living healthy and on the opposite end of the spectrum, Doctor Death himself, Jack Kevorkian.
And finally Mississippi Winn, who died at age 113, holding the record for being the oldest living African-American in the United States and the 7th oldest person in the world.
So when midnight rings its bell I shall remember those that made this their last year and give many a nod of thanks for what they did while they were here.
As Kip Tiernan said we can change the world if we are only willing to care enough and, in her own words, “to take the risk of being human.”