Back in 2001, when I was asked to write the "An Extraordinary Life" tribute features for The Herald-News, I was told the best way to find story ideas was to read the obituaries.
So I stopped just scanning for names of people I knew and started reading them all.
Recently I read the obituary of an extraordinary woman I really wanted to feature. I saw that I knew her daughter from a homeschooling cooperative of which my younger children and I belonged nearly 20 years ago.
I messaged this acquaintance on Facebook and asked if she would like a story about her mother. She did and we scheduled a time to talk.
Shortly before our interview time, I searched for her mother's obituary and found two – with two different names. It turns out my first inquiry was about her stepmother – but she was prepared to talk about her mother, who died in 2013 and was also very extraordinary.
So I decided to write about both moms.
Many of us are blessed with wonderful mothers. But what a greater blessing to be blessed with two.
This Monday's An Extraordinary Life will be about Mary Palmer. She taught at Joliet Public School's District 86 for 32 years. She was an accomplished viola player and played with several area orchestras and quartets. She was also a visual artist.
Then on March 25, I will feature Carol Palmer, an anthropology major, brilliant underwriter and co-founder H.O.P.E. Animal Rescue of Elwood. As it turned out, her son is a longtime friend of one of my sons.
It's an amazingly small world, isn't it?
• To feature someone in “An Extraordinary Life,” contact Denise M. Baran-Unland at 815-280-4122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.