Friday, January 17, 2014

What will your legacy be?

I had to write my mission statement as part of an exercise for a Franklin Covey Seminar - 7 Habits I believe it was.  That was a long time ago! So, naturally I don't remember exactly word for word what I wrote. But I do remember the meaning because it was real, and still is.

'To live life with honesty and courage, to never hurt anyone intentionally, so that when I am gone, my children will not mourn my passing but will celebrate my life'... something like that.

Above all else, I do not want to be mourned. I do not want to cause pain to any human being, most of all, not to those I love. I want them to have a party to celebrate the amazing life that I have been fortunate enough to have. To wonder at the myriad opportunities that have come my way and I have been lucky enough to be able to grasp and enjoy.

I do realize that this sound horribly maudlin and for that I do apologize, but when someone you work with, someone you are used to seeing and interacting with on a daily basis leaves this life way too soon, it makes you stop and think. And, of course, when my father in law died after 2 years in a home for the bewildered, with the inevitable in front of us, we did stop and do more than think, we prepared.

We have our wills drawn, our legal, financial and medical power of attorney, and living wills all in place. Next week we will be signing up and paying in advance for our cremations. How difficult it is to get that done without all the extras!  Graves, graveside carry on, flowers - just not my style. I am not religious though I am spiritual, and I have the utmost respect for the religious beliefs of others, with the one caveat - please do not wave it in my face, or try to force it down my gullet.

I have a book called 'Before It's Too Late'.  And before it is too late, I plan to complete it.  This book details every piece of information about what we own, what we have prepared, what we want, where everything is.

If I had my way, my ashes would be strewn across the floor of the The Alamo.  But as that is more than likely totally impossible - if it were, we would soon be knee deep in ashes - and at the end of the day, or as it will be, life, it really doesn't matter. To quote my father when he was facing his imminent death 'what do I care?  I will be dead'.  I would have no issue with my body being thrown into the woods - you know? where they do research on how long it takes a body to decompose etc; After all, it would be something useful. I would like to think that my organs could all be reused, but I am guessing they are already too old to be of any use.

My father in law was cremated, but he did have a grave and a graveside ceremony, with a few beautiful songs that my mother in law selected for him. And a reading of a poem that he had selected  himself many years before as something that should be read at his funeral. It was the classic graveside poem written by Mary Elizabeth Frye, Do not stand at my grave and weep:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft star-shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

One of the songs Mildred chose was Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton singing 'When I Get Where I'm Going' and another was 'The Dance' by Garth Brooks.  Both of these songs work for me too - of course I do share a love of country music with both Odell and Mildred.

So, at my life's celebration party, by all means play both of Mildred's choices. But I want the first and last song to be played to be 'Just Breathe' by Willie and Lukas Nelson.  On YouTube here