He was a…
Think about it for just a little bit.
Instead, think about this way, how will someone at your funeral answer the following statement,
He was a…
What will you be remembered by?
This is a question that I have asked myself from time to time. More so recently now that I am a parent.
It’s strange to think about your own mortality. Thinking about our death… why would someone want to do that? As much as we would like to think that we are going to live on and on, deep down, we all know that we won’t. It is a harsh reality of life. But when that time comes, what will you be remembered by?
What kind of history have you made for yourself?
It sounds easy. Partially because it is easy to look back at the people who have influenced our lives and gone on to live their life beyond this earth, and know the great things we would say about them. The words flow easily as we talk about those people. But the moment you turn inward, and start to think about what people would say about you almost becomes a different story… literally.
Sure, people will remember the man that I am now. A loving devoted husband, father, and caring friend. The friend who reaches out just to see how things are going. The father who will do anything to make his kids happy. And the husband who always puts his wife first above his own needs. But it wasn’t always that way.
Will the people who attend my funeral who knew me in my twenties remember me as “that” person. A grumpy crabby shell of myself who often times you wouldn’t want to hang around with. Hell, even I wouldn’t want to hang out with that version of myself. Would those be the stories that family and friends reminisce over? I’d hardly call it reminiscing if they were. Looking back at those years, I can tell you exactly why I was the way I was which I hesitate to bring up in the off chance that life sends me down that path again.
But looking back, there were a lot of things that happened to me in my 20’s, I graduated college, moved off to a new city, started a new job, married the woman of my dreams, and started a family. Yeah, so much went on during my 20s. I was just beginning to understand how the world worked, yet there I was, that crabby person who no one wanted to be around. There was a lot going on during that time.
It was a time when I felt alone and on an island. Because that is where I put myself. I would get angry at the littleness of things. I would get grumpy with my wife (and how she saw beyond that shell of who I was I can’t understand) or friends. Even while I was fishing with one my buddies, I would get upset at the smallest of things. If something went wrong, I would get so angry and upset to the point that I would want to give up and leave. I would want to go be alone… in my little world.
I even remember thinking during that time, what will people say about me if I die? What will I be remembered by? Yet, despite knowing that more than likely, there would not be many good words said about me, I continued to be the jerk that I was.
Fast forward 7 years and you’ll see the man that I wanted to be at that time. I’d like to think that people would remember me as the person I am now and not as I was back then. I hope that people think of me as that dedicated, loving husband. Sure, I have screwed up. We all have. Even today I have said things that I regret. I am not someone who easily forgets how much I have screwed up in life. I let those things haunt me.
Maybe that is why I am thinking about the legacy that I am leaving behind for my children. I want them (not just them but family and friends) to be able to look beyond the man I was in my 20s and my occasional screw ups that I had and still have some moments, it’s not who I have been, who I am now, or who I will be.
Again, it’s strange to think about the legacy that you are leaving behind. Sure you want your legacy to be a good, if not great, one. But what are you doing to prove that the legacy you leave behind is a great one.
I constantly wondering who will be standing there at the podium, staring out at family and friends as I lay there, and I wish that I could hear them read the sentence, “He was a….”