If I think of Jeff and the things that made him ‘him’. It is not the 600 dvd’s he collected. It is not the insatiable habit he had for eating Solomon gundy. I don’t find him in the large box of old baseball hats he insisted that he keep…or even his lobster claw lamp. Although these things hint at his personality when placed together like a patchwork quilt of sorts, they don’t completely illustrate him. In two generations, they will cease to mean anything. They will be the strange and odd artifacts found in grandma’s basement. Maybe no one will remember who they belonged to and why they were important. Maybe grandma will have lost her mind and with it, her memories, or maybe she’ll be dead too. But the tin foil ball rolled into the plastic Stanley Cup won’t have any significance to anyone but grandma and the man who was competing for rights to the ‘Tin Foil Ball Championship’ with.
The things that last are, of course, our kids. Their presence means we were here and existed for a time together. Our kids and our actions.
The good things we did. And the really terrible things we did. No one wants to remember the not-so-savoury things people have done after they have died. The things that stick out are the love you had for your family, the good things you did for your friends, the laughter you bestowed on everyone who came into your presence, the gentle and kind way you had with others….If you were truly a terrible human being, I am sure people would remember these actions, but often, your foibles and minor indiscretions are forgiven or unspoken. Sometimes, these ‘negative’ moments in your life are turned into humorous tales and seem to lose the ‘bad’ connotations they once held. But most often, the ones left behind regale tales of what a fabulous person you were to have around while playing ’Swear-word Scrabble’. Or how you could always reach the tallest limbs of the trees when picking plums. Or your love of singing.
I suppose a few of us could be remembered for inventing the potato peeler or for being a Politian who passed a no-chicken-in the city law or other various and equally important notoriety. But wouldn’t you rather be remembered by those who loved you or who are related to you than by some bored, pimply-faced grade nine who gladly forgets you the moment the quiz is finished?
So stop saving rubber bands for your grandchildren‘s grandchildren. Don’t buy another statuette shaped like a teapot with various flags engraved on the side to serve as a reminder of who you were. You don’t really need another pair of shoes, you only have two feet and no one will know how cool they were in one hundred years. Send the books that you may read one day to someone who will today. Don’t worry that your makeup is smudged or that your pants are tapered (although you may bear a resemblance to some 80s rockstar).
Smile at your kids and shove a couple of grapes in your nostrils to their delight. Let go of being mad at the ’moron in the maroon car who took the last parking spot when they HAD to have seen you were heading in that direction’. Send your friend a ridiculous and silly card anonymously telling them that you think they have the most fabulous ankles you have ever seen. Come in from the garage where you smoke your cigarettes (thus shortening your life, you know) and tell your wife/husband/kids/parents that they are fun to be around. Donate some food to the food bank. Open a door for a stranger. Smile at someone who looks angry or worried.
Let your legacy not be the stupid forgettable dandruff of life but that you LIVED. That your were here and that people remember YOU in all your wonderfulness. Not your stuff. Because stuff is forgettable.
P.S. This is a reminder to myself as much as anyone else. I must remember that time spent with someone we care for is so precious and that 'things' do not mend a broken heart.
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