Synoptic (I was born dead)

(1995)

Text piece consisting of published birth and death announcements merged into one.

Necrology is a particular type of perforation, of performance, it always lags behind the event, yet it announces it. In fact, it not only announces, it makes official, it confirms. Thus, the hole here is on backwards, or as Laurie Anderson cleverly points out in the title to a 1975 piece “It’s not the bullet that kills you, it’s the hole.”

In some newspapers the birth notices share the same page as the obituaries, in the New York Times the birth notices section is “a bit removed, naturally, from the deaths” (from a phone exchange between an operator at the New York Times, classifieds division and myself, Monday November 2, 1998). Both types of annoucements, however far apart the one from the other, function as a synoptic performance of a life, one of a life to come, the other of a life to reflect upon.

The close proximity of the end with the beginning jars, it performs the impossible encapsulation, it perforates through the decades of a lifetime and leaves a hole with the diameter of a paragraph.

BYERS (Durant) Emma – Peacefully at home on her 98th year. Peter, Jill, Philip and Lisa joyfully announce the safe arrival of Emma. Sadly missed by her 12 grandchildren, 15 great- children and 11 great-great-grandchildren. Weighing 8lbs. 13ozs, her grandparents Marie, Tom and Amy are very proud. Predeceased by her husband Bill (Janice) of Halifax, survived by many nieces and nephews. Aunts, uncles and cousins are delighted too. Madison and Elaine look forward to their new sister and Chloe, the dog, to a new friend. In lieu of flowers, donations made to the Heart & Stroke Foundation will be greatly appreciated.

RIDGWAY, John William (Jack) – Suddenly in hospital, weighing 9lbs. 8ozs. To Justin and Anita, after a short illness. Beloved husband of Beatrice. Special thanks to Dr. E. Sergeant and the Labour and Delivery team. He spent his early years in England. On returning to Canada, he will be remembered as a man of integrity and generosity. At Jack’s request he has been cremated, suspicions are that older sister Margaret will be stunned by the new arrival.

RODCERS, Dorolhy Emily (nee Harrison) – Sue and Tom are thrilled to announce with sadness her passing on January 14, 1996, at home, as a result of a car accident, and after a long illness. A warm and vital person, weighing in at 7lbs. 4 ozs., Dorothy culminated her career as President of Greensteel Industries. In 1987, she was fortunate enough to receive a heart transplant. Later, her doctors at the North York Ceneral Hospital helped ensure her sale arrival. Proud grandparents are Doug and Mary Ann Rodgers, and Jack and Joan Harrison. Parking adjacent to the funeral home, but a memorial has already taken place. Spring internment of her ashes later.

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