Imagine Yourself at Your Own Funeral

From Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, Chapter 21, in which Richard Carlson, tells people to imagine their own funeral and consider what they would like people to remember about them.    He wrote –

“With few exceptions, people wish they hadn’t sweated the small stuff so much.  Instead, they wish they had spent more time with the people and activities that they truly loved and less time worrying about aspects of life that, upon closer examination, really don’t matter all that much.”

I found when my father died in August 2004 that I had these overwhelming feelings of regret.   I wished that I had told him more often that I loved him.  I wished I’d taken the time to truly talk to him because in some ways he died a man I didn’t really know.    I wished that I’d cared enough to learn how to play golf so that we could have played together.

I had baggage that I feared I would never really be able to ditch, that I would carry those burdens with me for the rest of my life.

Then one night after I had separated, some time in the first half of 2006, I was lying in bed, alone in my unit, trying to go to sleep.  My father came to me that night and sat on the end of my bed.   I thought that maybe I was going mental, the rational man in me would never let a ghost visit me.   He didn’t speak to me and I swear that I was not asleep when it happened, but I drew a great deal of comfort from that.   A few weeks later my ex-wife told me that she had dreamt of my father.  He came to her in a dream and told her that he had been trying to talk to me but that I couldn’t hear him.  She said that he asked her to tell me that he was OK.

When I think of my funeral I think of what eulogies may be written and perhaps the one that I would like more than any is simply “He did his best.”   I am nowhere near the perfect man, was not the greatest husband, son or brother, nor perhaps the most caring father, but I did my best.

And now I am continuing to make changes to my life that make me a better person.  I don’t really care if other people believe that or not, or whether any of those changes are visible.    And the best way I can explain that is in the words of Colonel Sherman Potter of the 4077 MASH, who said “The only person I have to get better than is who I am right now.”

And on a lighter note I am also reminded of Yogi Bera who said “Always go to other peoples funerals, that way they’ll always come to yours.”


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