Is it just me,or is it a plague? 

So many deaths the last year – so many unexpected and shocking. Is it because I keep getting older and so do all these other people I’ve known well, thus increasing dramatically, the friends I have popping up on the obituary page? It leaves me feeling shell-shocked, and shell-shock doesn’t look good on me.

I normally write humor – some might even call it inane drivel – but nothing much seems funny these days. So many I’ve written about over the years suddenly gone, like irrepressible Tom Imburgia last year. I wondered aloud years ago why certain vocations have an inordinate amount of bald employees. Bankers made the list, and Mike Schumacher who also passed way too young, indulged me with gracious chuckles. Then I went off on the Post Office and its follicle-challenged attendants.

Tom laughed and loved every word and co-worker Jesse Fox seemed to agree, but not without warning me to watch my back when he and Tom were off-duty. Mercifully, reprisal never came.

Longtime neighbor Connie Miller Schuster was gone in an instant last week, and Ashley Overfield soon before that. She, like myself, had her share of struggles over the years, but I remember her reaching out to me many years ago about an animal abuse issue dominating her thoughts. I’ve known the family, father Bill and brother Cam for many years, and my heart really aches for her loving, long-suffering mother Rita, who has relentlessly shed light on tragically-misunderstood mental illnesses. The devil relishes and uses it, but I know God understands and excuses it.

It keeps coming, week after week. Maybe the biggest, saddest shock of all was hearing of Donni Hall, one of the nicest ladies I’ve had the pleasure of knowing – always smiling; always joking. I don’t recall what I wrote about her a couple years ago, but she playfully scolded me with, “I loved it, but you got my name wrong. It’s not Dawnie; it’s Donni.” I countered, “A rose by any other name smells just as sweet.”

Oh, I’m sure she wasn’t cheerful all the time; her husband Bucky has probably seen her face at some point without that warm smile, but it’s Bucky. Have you heard some of his jokes? Anyway, great family and a great big hole left. 

I’m so sorry for our great mayor and good son, Matt Hall. The fact this is all happening with the backdrop of a global pandemic nightmare and a frightening state of national direction makes it all the more foreboding.

On a brighter note, I took the tour of the new animal shelter Saturday and color me wildly impressed. As a former president and board member, I’m almost giddy at this beautiful facility that makes our old one – as diligently as everyone worked to make it a happy place for unhappily homeless animals – pale in comparison. Donni truly loved animals and would truly love this dream facility.

Hearing president Jan Riley and vice president Bob Grossman rave about how selflessly patient and prompt Groathouse Construction was, my headband goes off to those cats. At least all the good builders don’t die young.

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