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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Tribute

From Cyber Crew member Roger:

Just as you’ve experienced recently, Pastor Ed, we’ve lost two good friends close together … in fact, within hours of each other over the weekend. Neither death was a surprise. Both were battling bone cancer. And so, in a sense, we celebrated the fact they were no longer in pain. 

Our friend Millie was 87, a true free spirit who often looked at life through the eyes of a child, rejoicing in the beauty of each season … thrilling at the color of a leaf, the aerobatics of a hummingbird, the smell of fresh-cut hay, the appearance of a ripening crop, the taste of fresh sweet corn from the garden.

We “adopted” Millie after her husband died, hoping to fill some of her needs in terms of household maintenance and of loneliness.

But, it wasn’t so much helping her as it was her enriching our lives with her love and her pleasant company, not to mention her knowledge of the history of our area.

That enrichment reached down to our grandchildren, whom she adored. She never wanted to leave the home she’d shared with her husband, even though the aging process was making it difficult for her to keep up and to navigate its stairs. But she maintained her independence of living and driving until the last … when her illness was diagnosed about two weeks ago. 

Friend Bob had a much longer battle with the disease, but was a lesson in courage and stayed active in church, school board and community affairs as long as possible.

Bob did kind of a “sneak” into my life. I never knew him well enough to have much of an opinion about him … until he joined our Sunday school class. When he did, I was blown away by his humble, gentle spirit and the depth of his knowledge and thinking on all things, but especially those spiritual.

And even through the illness that worked to overwhelm him, Bob had a twinkle in his eye and a pleasant little grin that wrinkled the corners of his mouth. He was fun! And fun to talk with.

Much too quickly, his illness began to keep him at home on Sundays. Just as quickly, I realized what a good friendship I was losing. The lives of both Millie and Bob say to me how important it is to be open to the possibilities of new friendships around us … and how important it is to be a true friend to others, even those we don’t know. Millie and Bob remind me of one of my favorite pieces of writing over the past few years. The anonymous work (at least that’s how it was passed along to me) is something I shared with Millie the last time she was in our home, never knowing how soon she would be leaving us. But it thrilled me to watch her look at it, then decide to read it aloud. As she did, she wiped away a couple of tears and said, “That’s what it’s all about … that’s good.”

And that’s why I’d like to share it now, for Millie, for Bob and for all of us:

A life that matters (Choices) …

 Ready or not, some day it will come to an end.
 There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
 All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
 Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance. It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.

 Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will disappear.
 So, too, all your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists.
 The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
 At the end, it won’t matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived.

 It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
 Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
 So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?   What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.

 What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
 What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
 What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

 What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
 What will matter is not how many people you know, but how many people will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.

 What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that will live on in those who loved you.
 What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.

 Living a life that matters does not happen by accident.
 It’s not a matter of circumstances, but of choices.
 Each of us can choose to live a life that matters … or not.
 And what truly matters most comes down to this: Have we accepted Christ and His assurance of eternal life? Or not?

(Anonymous – distributed by Marty Stauffer, of Wild America outdoor productions)