Call me morbid, but I love funerals. They teach me about life.
My favorite eulogy, you ask? Gregg Kremer portrayed the best quality in his father, Ken. Already wise in his mid-20s, Gregg approached the microphone. He bore all the markings of a Nebraska farmer: deeply tanned forearms, snowy white forehead, rough hands and a slow drawl.
Returning from missionary duties in Korea, Gregg’s father and mother, Ken and Lila, settled in Aurora, Nebraska, to raise their children on the family farm. They wanted to instill Midwestern values surrounded by members of Ken’s family in a small farming community. His father, Maurice, made his name as a highly regarded state senator. A man of few words, yet Nebraskans remember his sharp observations, keen wit and trustworthy pledges.
But back to Gregg. I smiled to myself as he began to speak. Ken and Lila would have done the same at the way he expressed himself: simple, profound, humble.
“The thing about my dad,” he said, “is that he’d show up.
“It seems that whenever me or the other kids had problems, Dad showed up. When we heard rumors that a couple was having marriage problems, Dad showed up. When someone was sick or in the hospital, Dad showed up. When a new neighbor moved to town, Dad showed up . . .”
He’d figured it out. In the end, it’s not about reaching the pinnacle of a career, nor living in a beautiful house, nor driving the right car, nor the number of zeros in the net worth, nor the size of the city where one lives, nor the titles after a name, nor the heights of one’s fame.
People don’t talk about those things at funerals.
They will, however, remember the small acts of kindness. “I was hungry, and he gave me something to eat.” “I was thirsty, and she gave me something to drink.” “I was a stranger, and he invited me in.” “I was naked, and she clothed me.” “I was sick, and he visited me.” “I was in prison, and he came to me.”
As mourners ponder the life of the deceased, they either bless or curse the memories. Fewer things are sadder than a misspent life.
It’s our choice. People will remember us for extending the little graces. Or our legacies become decided by the pain we caused others.
Do I focus on myself and my agendas, or the needs of others?
Who is someone for whom you have high regard? Why?
How do you want to be remembered?