Rebecca reminded me of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church shootings last year, and I had in fact thought of that awful Sunday as well. I had blogged about it on my personal blog. As in the Athens shootings, I knew one of the victims, Joe Barnheart, a retired University of North Texas Philosophy Professor. Although seriously wounded, Joe had survived, but other members of his family had been senselessly murdered that day. The mentally unhinged killer, inspired by Rush Limbaugh's rants against liberals, had felt called on to do something to get rid of the Liberal menace in Knoxville. So he showed p at the Uniterian church, where the children of the church were performing scenes from the musical "Annie." Angered by this affront to everything loyal Americans hold dear, the killer started blazing away with high powered weapons provided him by members of the NRA. Ben's killer was probably armed by an NRA members as well. Do you get the impression that I am angry?
Ben was the third member of my family to die since last October. Of course, my brother Mike's death was not unexpected. He had a serious heart illness for 20 years, and the prognosis from the start had been that he would not live long. He had outlived medical expectations. I have a similar heart illness, no doubt hereditary. I will not say more. My father died in January. He had just turned 97, and lived on a diet of pills. Ben had health problems, but could expect to live for a long time to come. He was adored by dozens of young men and women to whom he taught the sort of life lessons that can be learned through acquiring set building skills in a community theater.
There is of course grief. Gaps have opened in my life as people die. Anna Kate said to me on Saturday that she missed my father, because she would have talked out her feelings about Ben's death with him. I would have done the same thing were he still alive.
Beyond grief for other's is the grief for my own mortality.