Today, I had the bittersweet pleasure of attending a local, elderly man’s funeral service. Bitter because death always is, but sweet because I was amazed by the number of people standing in the funeral home, talking about what a great man he was. It’s not very often you see so many people celebrating the life of someone elderly.
I’ve been through the bitterness of death, and it’s often the younger ones that draw people. When the ‘good die young’ everyone wants to show support… but when it’s an elderly person, people will often just say, “He lived a good life.”
But only when you really stop to think about a person’s life, do you realize their worth.
I looked around the room and saw this man’s livelihood personified by his wife, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. I saw nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, and other extended family members. But that’s not all I saw.
I saw the people who this man affected- who he changed. I was one of those people.
It’s not often that we are able to have those moments where we realize that good deeds, a smiling face, a helping hand, and honest-to-God hard work pays off. This man may not have ever fathomed the amount of people who cared about him and were affected by him because he was a good person, just for the sake of being a good person. Not many people will serve others at the drop of a hat and expect nothing in return. Not many people out there have a heart of gold. And when you find someone who does, hang on to them, and tell them how great they are. They deserve to know.
During this service, I was reminded of the deaths of those close to me. My own grandfathers, uncles, cousin, friends. I was reminded that the only promise we are granted when we are born is death. Some face that reality far too young and that’s when death becomes tragedy. For some reason, those who greet death at a ripe old age, are not considered a tragedy. I guess in a way, it’s fulfilling to know that people have lived long enough to see all that life has to offer.
But just like death is a constant in life, it never hurts less for those close when it happens later in life. Some families are dealt tragedy after tragedy, and they can attest to you, that it does not get easier.
But, in death, we are still promised something: Our legacy. I was reminded today that every single choice I make that positively affects the lives of others is adding to my legacy. Every time I smile at a stranger, offer to help someone, or spend time with my family, I am building my legacy. In the end it matters. It has to. Today, I realized how much weight our choices have on people. It matters.