Memories that Fade Into Obituaries

I always read the obituaries on the website of the only funeral home in the town where I grew up. A recent posting contained names I recognized as being a relative, but a few things didn’t jive with my memory. It wasn’t just my memory that was wrong–the obituary was as well. And the obituary, like my memory, left a few details out. And, for me, the days of calling my Mother for potential clarification (although she wasn’t always an “original” source) are long gone.

The maiden name of the mother was incorrect. His grandmother’s maiden name (or possibly the grandmother’s middle name) was used instead–at this point I’m not certain as my connection to the deceased was on the other side of the family. Other recent online obituaries were used to compare with the newest one, but it’s important to remember that obituaries are not always the best of sources and that relationships as stated in an obituary can change from one obituary to another–especially when individuals have been married more than once and divorce and other family dynamics come into play. And there was a niece who appeared in only one obituary–and not others where individuals with the same relationship she had were listed.

Never rely on one source. Even when multiple sources can be accessed, they may be incorrect. Always keep in mind the probable informant for any information and the probability that the information they gave was accurate.