What do you want people to say about you at your funeral?
This was a question I was asked recently and I’ve been thinking about it on and off since. I have contemplated my own mortality a lot – the prospect of dying alone and unnoticed is not a cheering one. Yet assuming there are friends left to miss me – what would I want them to remember? Here’s a list…
I made you laugh
not that I aspire to be a comedian – just that I think my sense of humour is probably my only saving grace
You felt encouraged in your endeavoursnot just the invisible pom-pom waving but on a more meaningful level, that you were important and you mattered, regardless of who you are
I was kind and a good friend/ daughter/ sister
I am frequently none of these things
I was passionate about the things I believed in
and finally learned when to let go, get off the soapbox and move on
I was generous
perhaps I don’t always have money to share, but time, cake, beer and space in my home are all things I can give more of
I noticed when you needed support without being asked
definitely still working on this one, because none of us are mind readers yet do we all, sometimes, just wish we didn’t have to ask?
I was honest
perhaps some day I’ll also learn how to be tactful
I was happy with my fair share
of resources, of time, of stuff
I learned and I questioned
incessantly, looking for answers, trying to do things better and to understand and know more – think I accept that I will be a work in progress for the duration
I was patient
heh, well, maybe another twenty years I’ll have figured this one out.
You could see a little bit of God in me
perhaps if I manage some of these it’ll become obvious – right now I balance what I say I believe and what I do and more often what I do badly outweighs the expressed good intentions.
As is often said, I’ll probably not be regretting spending more time in the office. Ten years ago I lost much of the ‘stuff’ I had accumulated, making me unlikely to worry in the future about the material things. Don’t get me wrong, there are things I’d try to save if Batty Towers burned down, but very little is really irreplaceable. It might be nice to be remembered for having the whole Chalet School series – but I don’t suppose it’s essential. Even the doctorate – so important right now – will fade in time. I’m surprised by what I’ve come up with, though; there are several on this list that I will be striving to achieve right up until the day I peg out. I don’t want my independence and questioning to turn into cantankerousness nor for my concern to become busybodying.
And there are things that aren’t on the list that I grieve for. I won’t be leaving a long and happy family behind me. My potential to be ‘mother’ to people is imagined only. I wonder if there will be a time this stops being painful. I know there’s a big lump of longing, and disappointment, neatly bundled away out of sight.
I won’t have changed the world – except perhaps a tiny corner of it, on the day I sat with you when you cried, or made your dinner, or helped you prep for a job interview, or listened to your problems. So if I am remembered for that, and not for my contribution to legal librarianship, or church websites, or slow long distance running, will that be worth it?