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Email Dilemma

In recent years I've managed to find a few old friends long misplaced and have made many new friends through my website.  I seldom, if ever, see these folks in person, but often speak with them via emails.  In most cases, I don't know exactly where they live or their telephone numbers or  the names of family members or how to locate them. 


I just have this one thin connection to these folks: an email address.


I found one old friend I had seriously misplaced for over forty years.  People I contacted would often tell me that they thought he was dead.  I didn't give up; finally, after about a year of trying to locate my friend, an old classmate ran into a cousin of my “deceased” friend who happened to know his phone number.  I called him, and he gave me his email address.  I'm sure I've long since lost his telephone number, but I still have his email address.


The new friends are equally inaccessible other than via their email addresses.  Many of these folks I've never met in person, but we've become friends through the internet.  Mostly they are artists or authors who are contributors to oldartguy.com.  My only connection, in most cases, is their email addresses.


Well…what happens if they die?  You heard me.  What happens?


Many of these folks are my age or older.  I'm afraid I have a little of an old spinster in me causing my imagination to run amuck.  I create images of old friends sitting at the breakfast tables faces down in bowls of cereal, or old friends who have tripped over their cats never to rise again, or old friends in their easy chairs with silly and permanent expressions on their faces…you get the idea. 


How would I know if they've passed on?


The deceased can't very well send me a notice via email of their sudden departures.  I doubt that their loved ones even know I exist, and we seldom have mutual friends.


If they pass away, I can see my spending a lot of time trying to find out why my friends don't respond to my emails.  This could involve a lot of work.  I suspect tracking down the dead is not as easy as tracking down the living.  Of course, there is a chance that I might be able to find an online obituary.  Still, a lot of work.


This prospect is not tolerable.  I can at least do my part to resolve this dilemma.  For my part, I think I'll create a list of email addresses for my wife to send a message to my email friends so they won't have to wonder why I don't answer their emails.  Of course, I'll need to write a note to be sent to these folks.  Here's a few I'm just trying out.


                            Dear friend,

                            I've stepped away from my computer forever and

                            will not be responding to your emails for eternity.

                            Your deceased friend,

                            John


Or perhaps this one.


                            Dear friend,

                            I've died.  Get over it.  I have.

                            Your friend,

                            John


                            Dear friend,

                            My computer and living time has expired.

                            Your friend,

                            John


Oh, heck, I'm having too much fun with this.


                            Dear friend,

                            I appreciate all of your past emails.  They were

                            stimulating for an old guy--I truly enjoyed them. 

                            However, no need to send any more.  I've passed on.

                            Have a good day,

                            John


                            Dear friend,

                            Quit sending me emails.  I'm no longer able

                            to respond.  Death puts a real damper on such tasks.

                            Your friend,

                            John


Most of these folks won't need or want funeral details; most live so far away that even if they were so inclined, it would be difficult for them to attend the services, and, besides, most of them wouldn't recognize me in person even when I'm perfectly still.  I just need to let them know not to send or expect any more emails.


Oh, I'll also need to leave instructions to discontinue my account to protect it from hackers who may get into my contacts list and pester folks with unwanted emails years after I've moved on…not a great legacy.


Okay, okay, I know this is worrying about something which most of you haven't even considered as a problem, but it's worth thinking about…I think. 

In the meantime, please continue to send me emails until you get a message like the following:


                            Dear friend,

                            Don't waste anymore of your time sending

                            emails to me.  I died the other day. 

                            Yeah, I was surprised also.

                            Your friend,

                            John

enough