"Another inventory of names, typical of obituaries, but now special because her life has been celebrated"
--72, America's Best Newspaper Writing
This quote was very apt in summarizing the overall effect of this obituary, I thought. I wonder why they don't write more obituaries like this. Probably because they don't have enough time, unfortunately. The amount of character-defining detail in this story is amazing; Clark and Scanlan did a great job pointing out all of the different elements that make it work so well. Unlike the story about Mimi Silbert, this one allowed for some details that portrayed in a more human and less saint-like way. True, they're somewhat superficial failings like, not being able to cook or tell a joke well, but these little imperfections make us all the more drawn to her because she was a good person who was also down-to-earth and relatable. It makes us want to be more like her. That's what I love about this story--it's about an ordinary person who did ordinary everyday things to help the people around her. A lot of times people like this aren't celebrated as much as they should, because they didn't do a lot that was notable or had the characteristics we've defined as "newsworthy." But in the end, I think people like to see a well-done story about an average person, because, let's face it, most people are average. I also like the elements that tie Byrne to a larger demographic and time period; she was very much rooted in the Irish Catholic culture, and the writer made great use of the characteristics we normally associate with that culture (hospitality, devout religiousness, etc.) Overall, I felt this piece did a wonderful job of celebrating this woman's life, and it's the kind of obituary I think we'd all like to think we'd have in the paper someday when we buy the farm.