Writing My Own Eulogy
"She always wanted to be a writer, but..."
I've been attending a lot of funerals lately...well, singing at them, actually. It is something I have done since I was eleven years old when my father, a minister, asked me to share my voice with a bereaved family that I didn't even know. It sounds weird, but I like singing at funerals, probably more so than weddings, which I also do. I like using all of my gifts, and when it benefits others - in this case bringing comfort and peace into a difficult situation - I feel like I am using them to their greatest potential. I also sing in a hospice choir, a church choir, and have taught music at my children's school passing on my love of music to the next generation.
But, funerals are what's on my mind today.
People always say nice things about the deceased at funerals, even the sparsely attended ones. And rightly so; speaking ill of the dead is poor form, and benefits no one. Listening to folks eulogize their loved ones you would think they were all the most perfect people on the planet. Things they are best remembered for are rarely noteworthy accomplishments, rather, they are the times when they made other people feel special. The times when they poured themselves out in little acts that made a huge difference in someone else's life.
What you don't hear is anyone raving about Uncle Fred's cooking, because Uncle Fred* was a bachelor farmer who always took his supper at the local diner. He never taught anybody to knit with those meaty fingers of his because he never cared a lick for needlework, or woolen goods for that matter. And his lectures on life were limited to single sentences cuz he never was much of a talker. But...he always planted a tree whenever he felled one. And his weed-free garden - kept as a hobby - supplied the neighborhood with the hugest, juciest beefsteak tomatoes you ever tasted. He could play the harmonica like nobody's business. His laugh was contagious, the type of belly-shaking, twinkly-eyed good humor that folks associate with Santa, which he played every Christmas at the town hall community supper, doling out candy canes and gifts to all the local children from his own limited savings. He was always up for lending a hand, and one time, when the neighbor's pregnant cow got mired neck deep in the manure pit, he strapped on an antique gas mask and went in after it when no one else was willing. The little boy watching anxiously from the fence went on to become a rescue diver, citing Uncle Fred as his inspiration.
You see, we're all writing our own eulogies each and every day, with each act. Much of what we do won't ever get acknowleged - and that's probably a good thing. (Fred's three day benders were few and far between, but when he went on one - boy, oh boy!) It is in the everyday living of our lives that what we will be remembered for comes out. Only time will tell what that is. Some are destined for greatness, and others for simplicity. Most of us have both in us, and our choices reveal it to the world.
"If we have greatness in us it may be in the ripples, and not the splash we make."
I would like to be remembered as someone who used what she had to benefit not just herself, but others. As someone who didn't just dream about becoming, but became by inspiring others to become along the way. I won't be remembered as a math whiz (or even someone who never uttered a harsh word, unfortunately), but I hope folks will remember that writer/artist/singer/mother/friend who added a little beauty and inspiration to the world, and encouraged them to do the same.
*Uncle Fred is a fabrication and not even loosely based on anyone. Any resemblance to persons living or deceased is purely coincidental, and taken as a compliment to the author's imagination and descriptive writing skills.
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