How Will You Be Remembered?

What probably sticks out the most in my mind from last Saturday’s luncheon for people who graduated from Frostburg State University fifty years ago wasn’t seeing a few familiar people, but having a time of remembrance for former classmates who’ve passed away.

 

A good-sized list of those stood on a table at one end of the room, and co-master of ceremonies Pat Garrett went through that list name by name as part of the luncheon’s events. He told whatever he knew about each person and asked attendees to share anything they knew or remembered about the deceased.

A number of the deceased were remembered only as having been good people–or nice ones. But those were still positive memories.

Many of the deceased either weren’t commented on at all, however. Whether they had truly been that inconspicuous during their college years or attendees didn’t feel it was right to say bad things about them, I couldn’t say.

I can’t help being curious. Once I’ve passed away, what will people at future reunions remember about me? I wasn’t an athlete. I wasn’t in any activities except the Baptist Student Union. (If any of my friends from the BSU came to the reunion, I didn’t see them.) I did play my guitar and sing at the Leaves of Grass coffee house on Friday nights, but that probably wasn’t overly memorable, either.

Hmm.

Death for a Christian is a good thing, not something to dread or regret. We believe we’ll be in a better place. Such a perfect place it makes the best earth has to offer seem trivial and worthless.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to be remembered–and hopefully in a good way. I don’t know about other peoples’ legacies, but I hope and pray that my novels and songs (maybe even some of my blog posts) will prove to be a worthy legacy, even if they’re not overly popular.

Success with the masses now or later isn’t the important thing. Blessing lives–eve a few lives–is, even if people don’t remember my name.

Twenty-five years ago I wrote a song called “What Will You Leave Behind?” Several years ago I did a video selfie of myself playing and singing that song. I keep the DVD in a lock box under the bed…to be played at my funeral, which I hope won’t be anytime soon.

The lyrics go like this:

When you die, you can’t take it with you,
But what will you leave behind?
Precious memories for your friends and family
Or relief that you’re no longer there?
Will the faith you’ve shared bring them comfort
Or your hopelessness cause them more grief?
When you die, you can’t take it with you,
But what will you leave behind?

When you pass away, you can’t take it with you,
But what will you leave behind?
Will your words continue to encourage
Or the harm they’ve engendered linger on?
Do your teachings tell of God’s Kingdom
While your actions point the other way?
When you pass away, you can’t take it with you,
But what will you leave behind?

When you depart this life, you can’t take it with you,
But what will you leave behind?
Will the good you’ve planted bloom like flowers
Or the problems you’ve sown spread like weeds?
Is your life well invested in others
Or will your influence die at your death?
When you depart this life, you can’t take it with you,
But what will you leave behind?

How I hope I will be remembered for the good. What about you? How do you think you’ll be remembered?

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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A Celebration of Life

I didn’t know Randolph. Not really.

He and his wife sat across the table from my wife and me at a banquet five or ten years ago, and he entertained us with talk about his train. That’s what my wife tells me, anyhow. I honestly don’t remember.

Randolph died last week, and his funeral was on Saturday. I say “funeral” because that’s the traditional word for it, but the family chose to call it a celebration of life. I like that.

I suppose most funerals include eulogies, even if the deceased was highly unpopular. But Randolph appears to have been quite an outstanding man. One who was highly regarded. And he would have been the first one to credit God with helping him be the kind of man so many people admired and looked up to.

Not every part of a “celebration of life” is overtly  joyous, of course, but the pictures projected on the screen for the first portion of the service, the eulogy, the extremely upbeat choir anthem “Jerusalem,” and the congregational singing of the joyous hymn “Victory in Jesus” all worked together to make Randolph’s service a positive event.

That’s not unusual for a Christian funeral.  We believe the deceased is already in Heaven enjoying fellowship with his Lord and Savior. The body–in Randolph’s case, he had already been buried–is simply an empty shell. Although even the most devout of Christians will miss their friend and loved one, there’s nothing to grieve about. Not for his sake, anyhow.

Like you, I have no idea how much time I have left. At seventy, I know I’m closer to my earthly death than I was at sixty-nine. I hope and pray that God will continue to bless my earthly existence with meaning and significance. And that when I go, my service will be a time of celebration.

I’ve already made a video of me doing one of my original songs, “What Will You Leave Behind?” I want that to be played at my Celebration of Life. But that’s not a fun song. Maybe have them show a Youtube video of Chi Coltrane singing “Go Like Elijah.” (Watch it here.)

[NOTE: What timing! I wrote most of this Sunday afternoon. Sunday night I experienced severe chest and abdominal pains that sent me to the ER. My heart was fine. The doctor there thought it was reflux. I went to my PCP on Monday. He was more inclined to think it might be an intestinal bug. After I got home, his office called to say he wanted me to have an ultrasound–maybe gall bladder problems. As of the time I’m writing this, I’m scheduled for that this afternoon. I don’t know whether I’ll have results back soon enough to give you an update before posting this. But no matter what the problem proves to be, it’s been a very timely reminder that my body will continue to deteriorate. And I’m thankful for God’s comforting company every step of the way.]

What about you? What’s your view of funerals? Have you experienced the difference between a Christian Celebration of Life service and one that’s not? How about leaving a comment.

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger