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Getting to know them

David Hough was my partner in this book project
“You met my late husband?” Er, no, actually I didn’t, is often my reply. I would like to have done, sure.

Writing obituaries is often an exercise in “meeting” after the event. Such contact, over conversation, over coffee, over both, can lead to something like friendship. The question from a wife or family member, about any possible meeting, is a source of comfort. The implication is that my work has done justice to a life well lived.

Likewise, a reader may call to make the point: “I’d like to have met the doctor you wrote about in last week’s paper.” So would I, is often my reply.

Many obituaries in my recent anthology, Encore, included the results of such conversations. Families and friends enjoyed the chance to reflect on my knowledge of the person whose life and achievements have been summarised.