End of the year lists are always entertaining to read

Published 4:26 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2016

There is nothing like the last week of the year for lists, many in newspapers. I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Auburn and reading these lists.

They start with the “Most Important Events of 2016.” No doubt that the most important happening in the United States for this year was our presidential election. It could also be listed as the most surprising, most unforeseen, best, and worst happening in our country, all at the same time.

Of course if you are a baseball fan, the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series for the first time in over one hundred years, could be the most delightful story of 2016.

The most prevalent end-of-the-year list is probably the human losses for 2016. It’s interesting that we put a lot of stock in celebrities in this country and when a celebrity dies, that is catalogued into our year’s end Most Important Deaths of the Year.

I will stop to say, though, that if you have lost someone in your family or a very close friend; someone who might not be a celebrity for the rest of the world, well, that is the most significant loss in the year for you.

As one who is asked to participate in funerals, I can say for certain that a great “name,” be it a singer or actor, a sports figure or a significant politician, doesn’t compare to the daddy, mother, brother, sister, friend that you may have lost for the year.

I won’t name names for fear of leaving out someone’s significant family member, but every funeral in which I have participated this year has been a significant loss for me and the loved ones who asked me to participate.

At the same time, I am touched by the millions of people who appreciate those who have brought us unique pleasures during our lifetimes and their passing’s.

For instance, back in April of this year, we lost the one I consider one of my favorite songwriters of all time, the Okie from Muscogee, Merle Haggard. He was significant in my life and I remember writing about the Hag.

Off the subject just a little, another significant songwriter in my life received a great honor in 2016. Bob Dylan, who influenced my musical tastes as much as anyone; he was such a prophetic and poetic man of words, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Back to the list of losses, another great musical icon died this year. I could name David Bowie of pop and rock music, or Glen Frey, a founder of the Eagles, but those are not who I am thinking about. A bluegrass legend by the name of Ralph Stanley died in June.

The world of sports lost two giants that same month. Pat Summitt, who was the women’s basketball coach at the University of Tennessee died of Alzheimer’s in June, 2016.

Summitt might be consider the greatest college coach of all time of any sport. She was tremendous.

The other sports figure lost in June transcended the world of sports and was truly a world figure. He was not everyone’s “Greatest,” but billions of people around the world considered Muhammed Ali just that, “The Greatest.” His death showed us that our diseases, like Parkinson’s, show no favor.

One more sports icon for my list includes the professional golfer who put that sport on the map for millions of people.

His name was Arnold Palmer.

As earlier I wrote, these significant people are just that. However, for your losses in 2016, those closer to your heart than any worldwide figure, you’ll remember this year for them.