Sunday, January 15, 2012

And what will your legacy be?

Last week Grand Island seemed to have more deaths than normal. Death was in our faces.  It seemed that everyday there was another death being talked about. I went to two of the funerals. Both were acquaintances, but I went to support those whom I knew that were grieving. Funerals bring us an opportunity to stop . . . pause . . . reflect . . . reminding us what we already know – that each of us has numbered days and to make the most of how we choose to live.

Both funerals brought something home to my soul. Both offered me a whisper of wisdom that made a difference to me in a way that I knew I had shifted slightly in my own way of living and my view of life.  The first funeral, Chuck Bosselman, a noteworthy businessman in our community, was a ceremony that was truly set up to celebrate his life. His grandchildren partook in the ceremony reading and singing. His grandson sang a solo with a brilliance that had to touch the spirit of his grandfather. It certainly touched each of us as we witnessed the tribute. His son and two close friends spoke of his life. And as each of them spoke, the thread of what Chuck was about became alive and apparent to each of us listening. Individually, each spoke of how Chuck lived his life – focused on family, friends and business. And within that context, if you were a friend, you automatically were part of Chuck’s family and business. And if you were family you were part of the “family business”. And if you were part of the business, you were part of the family. The authentic message rang through each of the sharing. The last friend that spoke, Steve Allen, was a business colleague from many years back who had become a good friend and was considered to be part of fold of Chuck’s family. He stated that whenever they talked (he lives out of state) they would talk about family, friends, and business. And over the years, there were lots of conversations and the conversations always held true as they would catch up in each other’s lives in the area of family, friends, and business. However, the last time they talked, it was about family and friends, no mention of business. Chuck obviously lived his life in that way as the church was overflowing long before the service began.  I left the funeral reminded that family and friends – relationships -- are what really matters in our journey here on earth. It reminded me to not get caught up in the daily routine of being so focused on what I have to get accomplished that, somehow, I stepped over and missed the real gold, connecting with those around me.

The second funeral was Bud Jeffries. Bud was on the board of the County supervisors for the past 13 years. He came into office the same time my husband took office as sheriff.  So Bud was in my husband’s life on a consistent basis. I heard stories about Bud, met him several times, but mostly watched from the sidelines. Bud was somewhat “crusty” and my husband would tease him at times saying, “Bud, do you need a hug?” and then he would go over and give Bud a hug. Bud had a sense of humor behind that rough exterior and a softness that was easy to find it. Bud’s funeral was also a sharing of his life. The sharing came from his seven grandchildren ranging in ages from 4 years old to 19 years old. Each of the grandchildren had written a letter to their grandpa about what he/she would miss most about him being gone. And again, we heard, as the letters were being read, a theme running through each of the letters. It was clear that their grandpa had really been in their life and shared a unique relationship with each of them.  As they shared how their grandpa had impacted their life they talked about the things their grandpa would say such as, “I am so hungry I could eat a frozen dog” and other funny little one liners. Each talked about his/her grandpa always telling him/her that grandpa was their #1 fan and how this was evidenced as grandpa never missed a single event until he got sick. Several told their grandpa how much it meant to him/her when he would pick him/her up from school which also meant they would be going for ice cream. They each had memories of one-on-one time going out to eat and sharing meals with “just grandpa”. They shared funny stories that made us all laugh and made us all cry.  Each grandchild signed his/her letter with a nickname he/she was given from their grandpa – many of those names included #1 in the name.  And as I listened, I felt a deep gratitude for having grandchildren myself and still having time to spend with them. And when I left the celebration of Bud, I told my husband, “If I leave the world with my grandchildren knowing that I was their # 1 fan because we spent time together, we knew each other, and we laughed together, then I had done enough with my life here on earth. In the end, we want to know that we imprinted upon someone’s soul, that we made a difference in their life, that we made their journey a bit easier, that life was a bit more joyful, that life was full when we were together. And in the end, it is all we really ever had.

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