Bob Saget. Betty White. Sidney Poitier. John Madden. Desmond Tutu. Joan Didion.
These are a few of the most notable performers, writers, and public figures who passed away in the last 30 days.
All of these people lived long, productive lives (Bob Saget was the youngest, at 65). They received respect and acclaim for their accomplishments throughout their careers.
Some–like Poitier and Tutu–had to overcome tremendous obstacles to achieve greatness. Others–like Betty White–continued to perform and delight audiences until just days before their death.
A 100th birthday celebration for Betty White, planned for next week, will now be a celebration of her life.
The problem with these celebrations, of course, is that there’s no guarantee that the guest of honor will be around to show up for the event. If we learn one thing from the time of COVID, it should be that life is not just precious but also fragile. One can appear healthy and vibrant one day and then be gone the next (like Saget).
Which is why we should be sure to celebrate the important people in our lives on an ongoing basis–whether or not they are nearing an important milestone birthday or anniversary.
My father was a key community leader in our town in Northeastern Pennsylvania. For decades, he championed programs for the disabled, low-income senior citizens, and others. Our family was grateful that the organizations he supported chose to honor him while he was still alive–rather than waiting till after he passed.
The problem with a final posthumous curtain call is that the person who is meant to be honored can no longer hear the applause.
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