Dear Annie: Our neighbor, “Jane,” was always rather private. She was friendly when spoken to, but she kept to herself. Jane’s husband was quite chummy with the neighbors, but when he died, there was no obituary in the paper, and Jane had no service.
Four months ago, we noticed Jane’s children were visiting night and day. Then everyone left, and the house was dark. After a month, one of the neighbors ran into Jane’s son and learned that Jane had died four weeks before, after having been ill for quite some time. The son said his mother did not want a service or an obituary, and didn’t want the neighbors told unless they asked.
Some of the neighbors are very hurt, because they knew Jane and her family for more than 30 years. They are angry with the children for not putting a notice in the paper. There are still people who drop by our homes to inquire if Jane is OK because they’ve been trying to contact her for weeks. It falls to us to tell them that Jane is dead.
Annie, why not allow those who had known her for many years the opportunity to say goodbye, or at least to express their condolences in a timely manner? How far should one go in following the last wishes of a dying person? – Jane’s Sad Neighbor
Dear Neighbor: Pretty far. In reality, funerals are not for the dead. They are for the survivors and provide an outlet for mourning. Denying family and friends the opportunity to say goodbye can prolong the grieving process. However, if Jane asked that no one be notified, her children were following her wishes, and that should be respected, even though you may disagree.
Dear Annie: I am a smoker, and I agree totally with “Louisville, Ky.,” who complained that smokers throw their cigarette butts everywhere, without regard.
As a youth, I flicked butts out windows, off the boat, etc. About 17 years ago, I swam with dolphins in Grassy Key, Fla. Before the swim, we had to watch a video on dolphins, which included footage of a dolphin autopsy. When the dolphin’s stomach was opened, over 1,000 cigarette butts were pulled out. The cause of death was suffocation. That was a big wake-up call for me and ended my butt littering.
While the sand may look like an ashtray, it is not, and when the high tide comes, the butts are pulled into the ocean, where they are mistaken for feeder fish. Now I spend my summer in Carolina Beach, picking up others’ butts. – A Fed-Up Smoker in Carolina Beach, N.C.
Dear N.C.: Thank you for the eye-opener. Read on:
From Kentucky: My family and I vacationed in South Carolina, and every morning at the beach, we had to cross a three-foot-wide band of washed-up cigarette butts. Most smokers are neither considerate nor respectful of the environment.
Madison, Wis.: At every major intersection, I get disgusted by the hundreds of butts lying in the rain gutters and at the stoplights.
Georgetown, Ind.: Nothing destroys the mood of a vacation more than being unable to build a sandcastle with your children due to all the buried cigarette butts at the beach.
No City: I am a smoker, and it enrages me to see others throw their butts overboard. My answer: Respect others and smoke outside, and carry a baggie to bring your cigarette butts back in.
Upper Saint Clair, Pa.: Smokers are motivated first and foremost by a powerful drug addiction, which they use as justification to assert that they have a “right” to foul the air that others breathe. Because there is no courtesy, legislation has become necessary to ensure the right of nonsmokers to breathe clean, unadulterated air.
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