Tuesday, December 23, 2008

How to Gauge a Great Life...

When the line is so long, for people to come up and tell a too-soon widow that her husband was a fine man, that you wait well over two hours, and the repeated conversation you overhear, up the line, is what a great life he lived, that he didn't waste a minute, and you can overhear her laughing with people who bear up the sorrow for her for just a few moments, sharing what her husband meant to them - that's a great life.

Hundreds of people, literally. We stood and stood and stood as the line seemed to creep. Over and over I heard how he served, gave back, how his faith was walked out day to day for all the world to see.

When it was my turn to speak to her, I asked, "so how are you doing?"

"Fine, not fine, fine" she said. "I loved him so much, it's so scary, I don't know how on earth I'm going to live without him."

Next to an urn of ashes stood a few momentos of his life - the number he wore in his last marathon, some family photos and his still-soiled gardening gloves next to a pair of clippers. He loved, loved being outdoors, pruning roses and working in his flowerbeds.

It made me ponder - what momentos would sum up my life? If there is a blessing in losing friends too soon, one may well be the gift they give us of taking stock of our own lives. How's it stacking up? What do others see? This faith of mine, do I speak it, walk it or both? I doubt Tom spent much of his time quoting scripture to those people in that room last night. He didn't need to.

Everyone there knew Tom loved the outdoors, gardening, his wife, his kids. Everybody there knew what he believed, whether he told them or not. Seems to me that's a pretty good gauge of how a life has been lived.


Barb said...

Absolutely. I can only hope the conversation in the line at my own memorial service will be as full of accomplishment.

Sad, sad. But even though he died too young, he obviously made a mark on this world.

Gretchen said...

So sorry for your loss, and that of Barb (his wife), Bev. Sounds like he for sure heard a "Well done, good and faithful servant!".