Making it all worthwhile

Where I live, a dreary winter became a rainy, cold spring, but this week, finally, all that has changed. The sun has been brightly shining for what seems like a landmark record: four days in a row. With low humidity, flower-filled air, bursting tree leaves, and singing birds, I’ve already forgotten the snow, ice, and rain.

Meanwhile, amidst this brilliance — while we were all preparing for Mother’s Day — my in-laws suffered a family loss. Joe was a father, brother, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend. A World War II army veteran, he lived to be 92. As a man of strong faith, he wouldn’t have let this good weather pass without thanking God.

I was there to support my grieving family; I didn’t know Joe well. But when a service is done right, you learn a lot about a person at his funeral. Thanks to a heartfelt eulogy, a few poems, and a ton of special pictures, I left Joe’s memorial with a sense of gratitude for having met him and a better understanding of who he was.

Which left me wondering…

All that we do on the dreary AND sunny days — filled with hardship, worry, work, dedication, friendship, love, and fun — is essentially what builds our legacies after we are gone.

Today a son had the difficult task of summing up what his father meant to him before reading it to his family, friends and strangers. In this final chapter, simple stories of random acts represented both who Joe was and what his son (and others) have learned as a result of time spent together.

We can’t change the weather any more than we can change our personalities. For some of us, old age may even cause us to forget who we are in the end. What matters most, is that we are careful to share ourselves with others during the short time we have. Only then will our life’s lessons truly live on.

Taken in the fall of 2000, I’m showing my little friend, Dylan, why it’s important to be careful near a campfire. It is not just your children who benefit from knowing you, but everyone you meet — as long as you’re willing to share.