Ponder your legacy

Yesterday I attended a beautiful eulogy for a beautiful, well-loved man.  My great friend, Carolyn’s dad, Joseph Robert Kelly, passed away on Friday.  He had been suffering from Altzheimers for many years and apparently the last few weeks had been particularly difficult for Joe and his family.  Carolyn told me that two weeks ago, her dad told her, “you don’t have to worry about me anymore.”  Obviously, very sad, but the reality is, he lived a long, happy, fulfilling life and it was time.

The service was simply beautiful.  What made the ceremony all the more beautiful is that Joe’s son (Carolyn’s brother), Kevin, officiated the sermon, as he is a priest.  I cannot imagine having to officiate my own father’s funeral service, however Kevin performed the service with grace, dignity and strength.  I could not help but be in awe of his unique ability to speak to the audience as if we were all gathered around his living room vs. sitting in pews at the magnificent St. Agnes Church in San Francisco.  He had a very special way of talking to us like we are equals, as if we’d all been friends for years.  Many priests, I feel, tend to “talk down” to the people… which in some ways they should feel entitled to.

I learned more about Carolyn’s father than I’d ever known before and I’m so happy I had a chance to get to know my friend’s father post-mortem.  Throughout the ceremony, as Kevin reflected on Joe’s inherent goodness, kindness towards others, and other amazing qualities, I was forced to think about myself.

What is my legacy?  What will they say during MY service?  These are important questions.  I want to do everything possible to ensure those who survive me retain great memories.  But, guess what?  That does not happen automatically.  We must work to achieve this and it is not something that is based on a few select events in time.  It is based on consistent behavior.  I guess it’s something to think about from time to time… are we living our lives in a way that promotes goodness and positivity?  If so, I believe our legacy will be fulfilled.  It should not be difficult.

Oh and by the way, my wish is for my service to be a “Celebration of my Life”, rather than a sad day.  I want guests to wear bright colors, drink lots of wine, dance, sing, laugh and remember that I would have loved to party with everyone too!


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Twitter: sheilamia Email: sheila at sheilablogs.com
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July 2010
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