A few weeks ago I was in a heated conversation with my teenage son, and he asked me, “Why do you have to relate everything to death?
This is the same son, who just a few years ago, said to me, “There is no other person in the world who I would want by my side other than you if I died.”
A lot can change during teenage years.
I explained to my son, Patrick, that death has taught me a lot about life. Lessons which I learned when my grandmother and father died.
And for some reason in the course of my adult life, I will often ask death related questions when issues or challenges arise:
Will I remember this on my deathbed?
If I were to die today, is there something I could be doing differently?
Did I do the best that I could with the capacity that I had at the moment?
And then just a few days ago, I received an email from an old high school friend. The subject line read, “What will they say at your funeral?”
Since then, I have been thinking about just that. What would I hope to be remembered by? What would I want my kids to say; my family, my friends, those I work with, etc.?
And so . . . in my first ever acknowledgment of my own eulogy, I thought I would give it a try.
My mom. She always liked her house clean and organized because she thought that your outside environment reflects your inside. She also always wanted home to be a place for us to land and feel cared for despite what was going on at school or in our lives.
She often had spontaneous ideas. She would come up with an idea that seemed out of the question, and in her own way would somehow figure out a way to make it happen. That’s how she opened the Beverly Yoga Center.
When we were young she used to say that there are three things she hopes that she could teach her children, “kindness towards others, travel the world and take time to read.”
She was the person that I could talk to about life, but she wasn’t very good at playing.
I would sometimes get annoyed with my mom because she would flip-flop on things. She’d decide something and then somehow days, weeks or months later feel completely different about the situation. Her thoughts and ideas were always evolving. Now that I understand her, she was definitely more of a creative thinker and not really a flip-flopper.
She most often would try and make us understand another person’s perspective so that we could see that our lens is not the same as everyone else’s. That was hardest to do for kids that I didn’t like. She always said, “there’s goodness in everyone, sometimes we just have to look a little harder because that goodness is covered with clouds.”
I learned over the years that she preferred to be contemplative and didn’t always feel like she belonged in common culture of our society. She found her peace and quiet doing things alone when she could hear more clearly.
She would tell us that going on a hike in the woods is the same as church because nature is where you can hear God speak and is a reminder that there is something bigger than us. And when there was a beautiful sky or sunset she always told us to look up and appreciate the vastness because of its sheer beauty.
There were times that I didn’t like when she made me talk about feelings and analyze everything, but now I see that she was really just advocating for our spirits and helping us to see ourselves more clearly so we could grow into ourselves more fully.
She was devoted to kindness and everyone getting along and being on the same page. She was sensitive when people didn’t like her or she couldn’t find a way to make peace with challenging relationships.
Looking back I loved what my Mom used to say to us, “We are in this together! I’ve got your back regardless of how messy life gets.” She was right. She never gave up on us when things got tough. She wasn’t afraid of the messes.
My mom could strike up a conversation with anyone and get their life story in a matter of moments. I never could understand how she did that. I used to get annoyed that she would talk to the waiters when we traveled and ask all sorts of questions about their life.
Oh, and I love that my mom would let us eat cookie dough and brownie batter. She had a real sweet tooth!
My mom was also complex. She was sensitive, and she had to overcome a lot of pain in her life. I know that some people found her to be difficult or hard to understand. Underneath those complexities was someone really soft. I also know that she did her best despite sometimes choosing her way rather than what was expected of her. She wasn’t perfect, but she was honest, sincere, courageous and vulnerable. My mom wanted to make a small imprint on this world to make it better before she left.
What would they say at your funeral?
P.S. Send me an email to let me know your thoughts.