Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Dying in threes?

Every newspaper I've ever worked for, or known much about, subscribes to the same legend -- that the deaths of famous people always come in threes.

Whenever a couple of celebrities die on the same day, somebody in the newsroom always wonders who'll be the third to take the fall. (Newspeople have the same strain of black humor that you find among EMTs, social workers, cops -- folks who see the dark side of life up close every day.)

So when I checked the news Monday morning and saw that Ingmar Bergman and Tom Snyder had died, my reflex thought was: "Who's next?"

Bill Walsh obliged.

(That's an interesting group, by the way. I'm not highbrow enough to know much about Bergman, except that one of his famous scenes was ripped off in one of the "Bill & Ted" movies. Tom Snyder I knew a little -- mainly because the theme to his show was the flip side of one of the first singles I ever bought, the Brothers Johnson's immortal "Get The Funk Out Ma Face." And I hated Bill Walsh when he coached the San Francisco 49ers because they CRUSHED my then-beloved Atlanta Falcons for, like, eight years straight. Plus he trained George Seifert, who later led the Panthers to a 1-15 season. Maybe we should just move on.)

I'm sure that those of you who are statistically inclined could say that famous people die all the time -- especially if you're willing to stretch your definition of famous people -- and so we've just conditioned ourselves to notice them in groups of three.

Can't argue with that.

But I think life is better when there are mysteries. One of my old college roommates swore that there was some weird electrical pulse in his body that made streetlights go out when he walked by. And, in fact, I saw this happen at least half a dozen times. Of course, I've seen streetlights go out at least 100 times when he wasn't around. But I'm still gonna go with that pulse thing until I hear different.

Noticed any interesting stuff that you can't quite explain? Speculate away in the comments. (But stay away from UFOs. I mean, at this point, who hasn't seen a UFO?)


Anonymous said...

I strongly believe that dying in 3's is absolutely true! When I was working as a nurse, we all knew when one person died, two more would soon follow. It had to happen within 72 hrs. though, not a week apart.
I also know that what goes around comes around,or you could just call it karma. Do a good deed and karma will be kind to you...not such a good deed and watch your butt as best you can cause it is going to get bit when you least expect it.
I believe animals know when someone is dying or has died. I loved the story about the "death" cat in the nursing home! When my dad was dying, his two Schnauzers buffered his emaciated body as best they could, but the second he died, they jumped off of the bed and looked up at the ceiling. The electricty in the air was palpable and we all looked up and said goodbye to my dad's soul.
I believe that God gives people a chance to say goodbye to their loved ones. I cared for a lady who had severe Parkinson's and had not spoken in about 12 yrs. While I was in the room with her, she said, "I want some ice cream". I ran to the charge nurse to tell her and she said matter-of-factly, "call her family, she doesn't have long to live". We got that woman up in a chair where she enjoyed many bowls of ice cream and she chatted with family members for hours on end. She stopped talking after 2 days and died that same day.
I believe that family members that have died come to take loved ones up to "the other side". I cannot even count the number of times I was with a dying patient when they would sit right up(often from a comatose state) and say, "you came to get me!" and die immediately afterwards.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
I always enjoy your columns Tommy, thanks for what you do to enrich our lives everyday!

Anonymous said...

what a great comment too!

Anonymous said...

In January 1997, I moved to NC. In May that year, unexpectedly, my father passed away from an aortic aneurysm. In April 2000, I had my first child, who due to endless colic and ear infections, was rocked to sleep for at least 18 months. After she was about 6 months old, but before she could speak, she would raise her arm and wave to one of two windows in her room while I rocked her. She would smile or giggle and I would always say to her, "Who are you waving at?" This went on for months. I happened to have a photograph of my father in a room just outside of my daughter's room, and as my daughter became a toddler, she would run up to the photo and kiss "Pappy" goodnight. It was if she knew him, although they'd never met. I'll mention here that she never kissed anyone else's picture -- not even mine! She continued waving to the window, as well, with me all the while asking, "Who are you waving to?" Finally, one night when I asked that question again, she said, "Pappy." Well, with the cat being out of the bag, the nightly waving stopped, except for one other night. Months had passed, and on the night of September 11th, as I was rocking my daughter to sleep, concered about what would happen in our country while she slept, my daughter waved one last time. I asked her, "Who are you waving to?" and she said, "Pappy." It was as if he wanted me to know he was watching over us.

And on the note of "threes," Sister Ruth at my Catholic grade school would always sneeze three times and say, "Father, Son and Holy Ghost."

Anonymous said...

My mother was in a nursing home and extremely ill; one of the night nurses heard her say "they're coming to get me now" and she passed. My dad had died just over a year before and she kissed him in his casket and said "I'll be with you soon". Some other close family members had already passed on. This still sends chills up my spine when I think of it. Also, when my 18-year old cat had a seizure and was going to die soon my dog, who had nothing to do with the cat otherwise, went to her and nudged her, like he was helping her to the other side.

viagra said...

it is pretty sad when there are lot of people dying at the same time. I don't believe in destiny but it looks like.