A few weeks ago I was at a friend’s father’s funeral. He had died of cancer after a not so pleasant last few months but after a life, perhaps too short, but filled with family, a great love and much laughter, and passion. I had never met the man, but after hearing one of his son’s and grandson’s speak I knew enough about him to know that he had lived a beautiful life, one that as much as he didn’t want to leave, one I would have been more than happy to have lived.
Now I realize that is only my perception, but as I listened and all of us in the audience smiled, laughed and then held back or let go the tears, I thought of something.
What are they going to say about me when I go?
I have unfortunately been to a lot of funerals and heard some great eulogies; some I wondered if they were talking about the person they were burying, some sad ones, and others that made me want to change the way I was living. This last funeral was one of those.
Not because this man had done anything that special, well actually, that was exactly it, he had done so many very special things, but none that we would normally call special. There was no wing of a hospital named after him, there was no charity bearing his name, there was no business with thousands of employees wondering what would happen now that he was gone. He was simply a son, a friend, a husband, a father, a grandfather and a man – probably in that order.
The stories that were told about him didn’t mention his accomplishments as we would usually measure them, they were stories about his sports prowess as a kid, what it was like to go to dinner with him, his crazy sense of humour, and the love he had for his wife and family. It was clear this man would be missed for real by many and remembered fondly.
1. in a way that shows that you like and care about someone
a. with positive or happy feelings
2. in a way that is not sensible because what you hope or believe is unlikely to be true
We all start to wonder what will be said about us when we die, especially as we get older and the end of life starts to at least seem possible. I would like to write my own eulogy to make sure they get it right. But what if what I write is not how everyone saw me? What if the person I am, is not who I am to the world? At the end of the day, the only one I am going to be accountable to is myself after all.
Let ‘s give this a try….
My friend, Simon Tooley, was a great man. He worked many long days and nights and often on Saturdays. I would see him at lunch or dinner with his partner with his iPhone at his side texting or checking Facebook. He left early in the mornings to work out not taking the time to have breakfast with his partner. He loved his garden and started it each year with gusto and then let it go throughout the summer. He was involved in charity at one point on a regular basis in his life but as he started his own business he let that go telling himself that he would get back to it when he had more time. He did not have a lot of friends, but the ones he had were close. Although he didn’t keep in touch with them or spend time with them like he wanted to – Facebook seemed enough. He loved to write and had started a few books but never finished any. His family meant a great deal to him, but he didn’t make the time to see them as much as he would have liked. He adored his partner, the love of his life, and yet he didn’t always make the time. Well, they spent a lot of time together, but he was not always there. Simon was a great man, he ……
I would really like to continue this but I have to go turn off my iPhone, have breakfast with my partner, and get out in to the garden. I have to give my brothers a call to see how they are doing and there is an old friend that I haven’t spoken to in a while that I am going to get in touch with. I may even write a letter. I wonder where that manuscript is that I started five years ago; I bet it is right where I left it. And no I won’t be in the office next Saturday; I will be helping to raise money for a cause I believe in.
Why don’t you write your own eulogy and see what you come up with. Then let’s check back with each other in a few months and see if we can’t write another one with fondness.
I have not written here since December 2012, I have thought about it many times. But thinking about something and doing it is definitely not the same thing. What happened? Too busy? Writer’s block? Not interested anymore?
Those sound like excuses to me. And I am not big on excuses. I am way too hard on myself for that.
I was “chatting” with my friend Hivron on Facebook, I met Hivron through this blog a few year ago, and she said something that resonated with me:
You’ll know when you’ll start writing again. It’s all magic, the time will magically be there and it’s usually when there is an obstacle in your life presently that you’ve overcome and it won’t be taking that ‘space’ up any more.
And Hivron, was right, as she often is. There was an obstacle that was stopping me from writing and it was ME! I could put all kinds of names on it but in the end where does that proverbial buck stop? With ourselves. I don’t know about you but how many times have you put the blame on something or someone else, convinced yourself it was all their fault, and in the end, when you slowed down (and calmed down) long enough to be honest, and saw your part in the situation, that you realized you were the one who had caused the obstacle in the first place.
I own a retail store and one of the most important things we do is take inventory. How can you run a successful company if you don’t know what your inventory is? You need to know what is working, what isn’t working, what you need to get rid of, and what you need to stock up on.
Is it really any different in life?
I know that doing inventory in the store shows up the mistakes that I made in buying or it may also show me where we need to do a little repositioning to make something work. If I stop long enough to do that with myself, that magic that Hivron was talking about happens. Except it is not really magic, it is just slowing down long enough to be honest with myself and then willing to do what is needed to push that obstacle out of the way, find a way over it, or more often than not realizing that it was only there in my mind to begin with.
So….let’s see how well I do at keeping the obstacles out of my way. You will know before I do I have a feeling.