What will you write about You?

What will you write about You?
 
         I love airports and planes, probably because I don’t travel much. I catch myself doing things I don’t normally don’t do like reading the obituaries in a local paper today.
         I read about Miriam from Long Island who died at the Columbia Presbyterian in New York City. I wondered if she was rich and sought out the best medical care or was so acutely ill that it was necessary to be at Columbia. Rod, the next passage read, passed away at a hospice.  How long was he there, did he suffer through a prolonged illness, what toll did it take on his family or did they care? Joan, left us directly from her home as many of us pray we are able to do when the time comes. Margret last ‘was’ in her hospital bed and Leon’s family omitted telling us those details about his last stop.
What else are they telling us about their now ‘passed’ family members? Their loved ones? Tolerated ones? Fun Ones? Pain-in-the-ass ones? For simplicity I’ll call them all loved ones!  
Marie her passage reads, was a attorney, a girl scout troop leader, a gardener and a cook. Additionally, we are told she spent quality time with her children and grandchildren.  Did she like being an attorney? Did she prefer to stay home? Did she have a choice? Would she have written of herself:  ‘A successful attorney with kids’ or ‘A Devoted mom who juggled her career’? It seems like a few rearranged words and sentiments but to her it would have been important – a short commentary, a blurb on her ambitions, values, choices and ultimately her ‘self’.
John served in WWII and with the 82nd airborne division and invaded Normandy on D-Day! The stuff of legend, an American hero, a cultural hero…but did he see himself this way? Would he consider his twenty years of work with the homeless of far greater worth and value? Maybe a truer reflection of himself that the soldier we celebrate? If he had the chance would he write about his awesome aim and trigger finger or would he rewrite his past and assuage his conscience from the violence he wrecked?
         How much are these words on page 18 a telling of their lives and times, of their love or lack thereof and how much of it is what the loved-one would want said about themself. How much is fact and how much is a graceful yet posthumous mending of fences?  In other words, what part of their stories that I’m reading is their true legacy and what part is what they really wanted their legacy to be?
As I pass 50 and enter firmly (or infirmly) into middle age I am more reflective and philosophical. So my friends, the next time you are alone in a car here’s some homework. Ponder these questions for yourself:  What will my obituary say if I wrote it today? What would it say if ‘they’ wrote it after me? Would the two match? What would differ? What of my life would I consider important, that they wouldn’t? What would they find deficient…and perhaps with a little grace leave out of my narrative.
         Joan, I continue reading, led a Bible study group and worked for Catholic Charities. Margret was a communicant of Nativity of Our Lord Byzantine Church and Gertrude attended St. Virgin Mary’s Church. Every obituary on this page mentions church affiliations and volunteer work. This is interesting. These folks are crossing that bridge between this world and the next. By consensus it seems like faith in God and service to humanity have gained a certain significance on this page. It like showing off the chips that you haven’t cashed in but you hope to!
 
So my friends, answer this if you care…
What chips do you have?
Are they enough?
“Enough for what?”, you ask?
I dunno – enough for the rest of your “lives”?
 
So maybe its time to consider your legacy and your trajectory. To measure yourself before you will be measured. …To see if what you think of yourself is what the world will think of you…

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