I don't read the newspaper paper much anymore....except, for some reason, when we're on a road trip and Kelsey's driving. She laughs at me for that. We'll pull in to swap drivers, I'll run into a convenience store to grab a cup of coffee and come out with coffee and a paper so that while she drives, I can read what I read on the internet the day before.
The one part of the paper that I never read is the Obituary Section. It wasn't out of avoidance or creepy superstition...it was more that obituaries dealt with people survived by sixteen grandchildren or those who had been members of Our Lady of Steeped Tradition for 28 years.
This all took a hard left last night, when someone emailed my mom a clipping from the Minot Daily News, announcing that Dr. Jon Florence, 41, died in his home on Sunday.
Jon was a classmate of mine back in the day when one had a classmate from k through 12. We were pretty good buddies in the early years of grade school, until things like who could throw or catch a ball began to matter in social circles, and he naturally gravitated toward the players while I moved toward the play-nots. Jon was a natural athlete - football, basketball, and baseball. By his junior year of high school, he had played on state championship teams in two of those sports.
Our interests led us in vastly different directions, but Jon remained the consummate nice guy. He never failed to say hello. I remember at 15 or 16, being struck with the fact that Jon treated everyone essentially the same.
In May of 1985, we graduated from high school along with 36 other fresh, clueless faces. I believe I saw Jon one time after that - in the early 90's when I dropped by the dental office he shared with his father to say hello. The office was less than four blocks from where we'd stood in cap and gown in 1985. As always, he greeted me warmly. We spoke for a few minutes about what we were both doing in life, and he went back to work.
Suddenly the obituaries seem very, very relevant.