When I was editing obituaries, I used to have to sit with the original form submitted by the family, and make sure everything in the story matched what was written in pen by the bereaved.
It was an extra big deal to make sure obituaries were accurate. To this end, I had to call survivors, even on anything the family itself may have written wrong.
One night I was doing the math to make sure the birth and death dates made the lady 90, when I realized both dates were the same, but with different years. If she was 90, it was only for a few hours.
It would be an easy mistake for a grieving son to write the death date on both lines absent-mindedly.
The family said, “Yep. It was her 90th birthday.”
Oh no. “Were you with her?” It was OK for me to be nosy. At least, I always told myself that.
“Yes, she died at her birthday party.”
I scanned the form. She died of a heart attack.
Good Lord, they couldn’t be that stupid.
I had to ask. “Was it a surprise party?”
I’m of a firm mind it’s wrong to startle the tar out of old people.
He hung up on me, which was fortunate, because I was crass enough to fall into a fit of laughter.