It’s interesting to note how we are remembered when the time comes for us to forget the “Bucket List” and just accept the fact that we have finally “kicked the bucket.” There are snippets of information from the government’s official casualty list concerning the deaths of those in the service of our country who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and all that is mentioned is their name, rank and hometown.
Newspapers can provide additional information concerning family and friends, but very little else such as achievements. Interesting too, is the fact that in many notices of death of an elderly person, the picture is of a youth. Perhaps that was their “finest hour” on earth. But, as Peggy Lee once sang,”Is that all there is?”
What brought these thoughts to mind was an article in The New York Times, Jan. 10, 2012, by Jane Brody, science journalist. She writes about the Cornell Legacy Project whose aim is to encourage elders to write their epitaph (or as I call it exit interview) as a means of providing a guideline for understanding life as it has been lived.
A key is what are some of the most important lessons you have learned over the course of your life. The subjects that Brody lists are: careers, marriage, parenting, aging, happiness (or not) and regrets. I would add to that list, faith!
Some newspapers and TV news have their fledgling hires write epitaphs as training for more serious articles. Of course, the only point omitted is the date of demise. I believe it might be an important exercise for us all, no matter what age, to write our own epitaphs. If you were commemorating your own life NOW, what would you write? Forget the fact that you haven’t lived four score as yet — what dreams do you have or regrets for what you haven’t as yet accomplished? By putting your thoughts down, there is a likelihood that you might just try to make some changes before the bucket tips over. Let me provide a few thoughts on each of the subjects mentioned by Brody.