I went to a wake this afternoon for the father-in-law of a dear friend. I believe he was 82 years old and was the patriarch of a large family. Children, grandchildren, I think great-grandchildren too. There were so many people there- so many generations. The eulogy his son Jack delivered began to shed some light on George’s life and the people that were there to celebrate it. The family members who shared their stories of George as a husband, a young man, a father and a friend. I settled in to listen and I looked around.
As the priest began to speak, there were some people checking their watches, flipping through emails and looking somewhat annoyed that their afternoon was disturbed. They were antsy and chatty. I think I know how those people may be remembered.
I have lost family and friends like we all have. Young people who died on 9/11; my roommate who had a massive heart attack at 47 years old; car accidents, suicide and illness. I remember them all for various reasons. I don’t want to forget them. So, wouldn’t it be nice to be remembered for something great? Something you did to make a difference, no matter how small? It doesn’t have to make the evening news with Brian Williams, it just has to be remembered by the few who will one day, stand and talk about you and your life, and your influence on them.
I poured myself a glass of wine to write this. I’m not sure why. Funerals and wakes bring mortality to us all. It’s kind of a wake up call and gut check to look inside ourselves and see what can be better. I can be better.
I did not go to the cemetery with the family this afternoon. I think that is the most private time when you must leave and say goodbye. I loved my grandfather and he died in the wintertime. I remember hating to leave him them there as it was so cold. So I will share with you Terri, Jack, Kim and family, the feeling that comforted me. My grandfather was not there and not left behind. He was with me, a part of me, like every person that touched me during their time here. When I hold my thumb to my lips to think or hum a song from a Puccini Opera or call someone Dolly, I am reminded of the people who are now a part of me and are being remembered in those actions and words every day.
I hope one day, far, far away from now, that I too, like George, will have a room full of people telling stories about me, remembering, perhaps this crazy blog I write and dancing to some unfiltered Pitbull songs. No tears, no maudlin music or prayers but a time to laugh and remember. We all look for answers and ache inside when someone passes away but try and find some comfort in the life that made yours richer and stronger. It’s there, just feel it and remember to pass it on.