Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Epitaph

As someone who has always been interested in ancestry and history, every now and then I might wander around older cemeteries reading gravestones. It’s not uncommon to find inscriptions such as, “Beloved Husband and Father” or “Beloved Daughter, Taken Too Soon” or something sentimental such as, “Loved In This Life And In The Next.”  I’ve wondered how these individuals earned these inscriptions or if they were just ascribed to them by a caring survivor.

My wife, Kim, and I watched an episode of “Raymond” where Raymond and his brother, Robert, were sitting in the front seat of a car arguing about who was “going to get mom.”  And it wasn’t so much as to who was going to “get” her, but who was going to end up “taking care” of her.  Because their mother was overbearing, a meddler, and rather outspoken, neither wanted her and Raymond and Robert went to great lengths to convince the other why the other should be the one to take care of her.

Sitting around our dinner table one evening, Kim, Hannah, Emily and I were talking about the future.  Hannah wants to stay either in Virginia or on the West Coast.  Emily would just as soon head back to Wisconsin because she doesn’t mind the snow and cold and wants to be around family.  Kim and I want to be warm.  We would joke with them about marrying someone rich or getting a nice job so that they can take care of us when we get older.  They announced to us that if something should happen to Kim and if I was left, Emily would “get” me.  Wil and Hannah had already decided that.

“Get” me.  I know it was meant as a joke, but  . . .

“Get” me.

Got me thinking . . .

I know I love our kids dearly.  Each one is unique and special in his or her way to me, to us.  I’d written in an earlier post that I would gladly give them the sun, the moon, and the stars if I could.  I really mean that.  And, I know they love me.  As a parent, sometimes there are uncomfortable conversations and sometimes uncomfortable consequences for decisions, words or actions that all parents and their kids face.  I get that.  And deep down, they get that.

But “Get” me?

I have to admit that the “joke” stung some.  Sort of like a pebble in one’s shoe as one tries to walk a great distance.  Am I a “pebble” in their shoes?  A stone?  A boulder?

Makes me look closely at what I say and do.  Makes me look closely at my intentions, my actions, my reactions, my purposes. 

“Get” me?

Makes me look at my relationship with each of them . . . with others . . . with Kim . . . with myself.  I know I’m not, nor will I ever be, perfect.  A long, long way from that.  So very far from that.  I have a better shot at winning a marathon or becoming the next Pope. 

“Get” me?

Makes me reflect on my life as a parent . . . a husband . . . a teacher . . . a coach . . . a counselor
 . . . a principal.  Not perfect by any stretch of any imagination.  A long, long way from perfect.

But . . .

I know I can . . . and will . . . do better.  Each day, I can . . . and will . . . make the effort for them, for others, for myself to improve upon what I did the day before.  Will I fall short?  Sure.  Will I come close at thinking, at doing a bit better each day?  Sure.  I’d rather not be someone . . . or something . . . to be “gotten.”  Rather, I’d like to be “wanted.”  Because whatever is written as my Epitaph, I’d like it said that “While He Wasn’t Perfect, He Cared and He Loved, and We Cared and Loved Him.”  I want that to be my Epitaph.  That’s how I’d like to be remembered.  I want a life like that.  Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

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Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe