Susan B. Johnson, author in Savannah GA, died in February 2022

I am still thinking of Susan Johnson. Obituaries will do that to you, no matter when you read them.

For a while when I lived in downtown Savannah, before it got gentrified, SCADified and hotel-centric, before it got monetized with tour buses, walking tours, vegan restaurants, it felt as if I saw her or her husband Fred every day.

Then I didn’t. Then I forgot about her. And Fred.

Time will do that to you.

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Then when we have more time, when we’re not hewing to a schedule, answering to a boss, filling out a timecard, scheduling a vacation, going to a staff meeting, complaining about a new procedure, going to the dentist, breaking in a new supervisor, seeing a flat tire because we have to go to work in an hour, we have time to remember.

And then it’s too late. Then they’re dead.

Obituaries are so abrupt, so final. That person you always meant to call, to check on, to reconnect with? Forget about it. Opportunity lost. I love a line in Susan’s obituary. Her neighbors of her, the obit read, should be counted among Susan’s survivors of her. After all our grand adventures in life, the moving parts of the nuclear unit we grew up with, all the jobs, all the encounters, in the end it’s the immediate neighbors we see the most.

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