By Mark W. Danielson
It’s funny how certain things cross your mind. Sometimes they are pleasant. Other times, not as much. Perhaps it was because I was flying to Guadalajara where drug lords had just delivered another message by dumping twenty-three bodies around the city that got me onto this subject. Or maybe it was the news story of a light plane crash that killed six people, three of whom were children. Whatever the reason, it got me thinking about the word was and how it plays into stories. In a narrative story, it is essential. When used to describe people, it means death.
The last thing I want is for my loved ones to read I was a good writer, or I was a good pilot because both are used in the past tense. Words written post-mortem describing what was once my life. When you think in these terms, this word becomes rather sobering.
The 2011 holiday season kicked off with a vengeance, first, with a woman pepper-spraying WalMart customers on Black Friday, and then with news of more fights in stores. Such events not only reflect poorly on our society, they lead to neighbors saying, “I have no idea what happened. He/she was such a nice person.” Although no one died in these acts of stupidity, the lives of the guilty parties were changed forever.
Every day, the papers are riddled with obituaries that use was to describe people. Whether they died in combat, automobile crashes, or from cancer is a moot point because dead is dead, and now the most dreaded word is printed in their honor. Please keep this in mind as you travel to visit your loved ones. Don’t drink or text while driving. Always be aware of your surroundings so that you and everyone else can enjoy a safe and happy holiday season. Above all, have a very Merry Christmas.