My 96-year old mother has been reading multiple papers daily for decades. She reads everything and never fails to always peruse the obituaries, a habit I had never acquired, until recently.
So, let me say that I find obits strange. First, no one is ever bad once they’re dead. I like truth and I think it’s fair to point out that someone was a horse’s ass in life. I mean, why not? Who are we protecting? The person, after all, is dead. They’re not sitting at the breakfast table scanning the obituaries to see what others think of them. So, wouldn’t telling the truth about Uncle Bob—he was a miserable, cheating alcoholic who beat his wife and terrorized his family—be therapeutic? But we never do that. History tells us that the idea that one shouldn’t denigrate the dead goes back almost 2000 years, but curiously there is no explanation as to why.
I do find it interesting how many ways people say someone died: He moved on, went to heaven on the wings of angels, was called home, left this earthly plane, passed peacefully, though that one always has me asking how they knew the deceased settled easily into death. Maybe he was raging against the dying of the light, after all.
I realize that family members of the deceased are often tasked with writing obituaries. According to Legacy.com, “Writing an obituary can feel daunting. You may feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of writing about a loved one who has died. Or you may worry that you’ll forget important facts or that the obituary won’t fully capture your loved one’s life. This is one reason why many families begin preparing the obituary in advance.”
I like that idea, and so, apparently, does my mother. She has penned her own obit and I’m sure wants no revisions from the family. (As those who know Mary Anne can attest, she’s not one to be trifled with.) That said, my recent brush with Covid had me considering what my own obit might say. As a former journalist—one from olden times when reporters would never consider picking sides—I offer the truth.
Anne Butler Montgomery
Anne had a fabulously interesting life where things didn’t always go as planned. Sometimes she succeeded. Sometimes she failed, periodically in spectacular fashion. She was driven and stubborn and opinionated. (The latter of which she blamed on her mother.) She tried to do the right thing when facing important decisions, though sometimes the right thing remained elusive. She could be awfully sarcastic and was surprised when she became a teacher to learn that sarcasm was not appropriate where children were concerned. No, she wasn’t always nice, but in later years she worked hard to improve her sweetness factor. She loved music, wild places, rocks, officiating sports, and animals of all kinds. She relished food, wine, good company, books, and movies. Anne wishes that you hoist an adult libation in her honor whenever you choose. And she would appreciate it if her friends and loved ones would sprinkle her ashes wherever they see fit. If that’s in the kitty litter, so be it.
So, let’s start a trend. Let’s tell the truth about ourselves and ask others to do the same. With that in mind, what would you say about you?
Ancient ruins, haunted memories, and a ruthless criminal combine with a touch of mystic presence in this taut mystery about a crime we all must address.
Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Suspense
September 13, 2021
Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—a six-hundred-year-old pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.
One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.
Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.
One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target.
In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.
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