Recently, I've read two stories that stuck with me.
The hitch: They were both about dead people.
The first was a long, thoughtful piece by Jeremy Markovich about race car driver Dick Trickle.
The second was a brilliant obituary about a retired nurse named Mary "Pink" Mullaney.
It would be hard to argue either story had a happy ending. Trickle committed suicide after a long bout with untreatable pain, and Ms. Mullaney--who left behind an amazing 'To Do' list for the rest of us-- no longer graces this Earth.
But what both pieces did, brilliantly, is make me wish I'd known the person who inspired the story.
To me, that's what great writing does. It puts us in another world--whether that of a hard-partying short track driver or a Catholic grandmother who carries chicken sandwiches in her purse in case she encounters a hungry person.
Both writers sought to reveal truth. Both wrote with obvious love for their subjects. But what made these pieces special were the anecdotes, the little details that showed the character of the deceased.
Rather than say he was a 'hard-partying, hard-working' driver, Markovich told about the night Trickle became the oldest Rookie of the Year in NASCAR history.
Instead of describing Ms. Mullaney as 'generous,' her biographer made up a hilarious list of how she'd treated hitchhikers, homeless people, and invading possums.
If you have time, check out both stories. My guess is you'll wish you'd met these folks--or, like me--that you'd written these wonderful pieces.
Cheers...and Happy Reading!