Last Words

Last Words


A dear old man I know died last week. One of life’s true saints, the world is a little poorer for his loss.

I’ve lost too many precious Elders from my life lately. Keith – a dear old friend who always knew when life was not going well for me and would greet me with a “let’s talk” at just the right moment. Dennis – my grief already well documented in this blog here and here. And now Jock – who always showed me what being a ‘Man (or Woman) of God’ was really about in the face of evidence to the contrary.

My life has been truly blessed for knowing them.

The common words used to describe Jock at his funeral today were the same I would have chosen. Compassion, humour, humility.

Funerals always make me think about what people might say about me when I’m gone. That sounds self-absorbed but I think it is not unusual to consider your own mortality in the face of grief. And today I had time to reflect, once again, on what the epitaph of my life may be.

In my most whimsical moments, I imagine someone reading an excerpt from one of my books or playing a song from one of my albums. I imagine stories of adventure, endurance or sacrifice or the time I was awarded Mother of the Year.

Realistically, what would I want people to say about me after I’m gone?

“She was a good person.”

No tales of derring-do or international fame. I’d just like to be remembered as a good person.

It is what influences my decisions in life and the reason I take mistakes so hard, particularly those mistakes that cause hurt to other people. Any choice of action that results in me not being the kind of person I want to be becomes a regret held forever.

But it drives me and gives me a reason to do better tomorrow. It is an ideal for which I can strive. I will inevitably fail on occasion – I am, after all, human – but I do not think it is unattainable and so I do the best I can each day. Day after day. Until the day people hopefully say:

“She was a good person.”

What would people say about you? What would you like them to say? I’d love you to share in the comments.



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16 thoughts on “Last Words

  1. Life is lived in the tension between the opposites. It is better to have lived than to have merely existed. All we can do is try ‘to be a good person’, whatever it means. The rest is none of our business. (Paraphrasing the end part of the CT Resolve.) You authentically ‘live’ the life you are given.


    • And in living, we will make mistakes and that has to be accepted. All we can do is accept the mistake, learn from it, and do better. As you say, better to live authentically than merely exist through fear of getting it wrong.


  2. I don’t think it’s self-absorbed. I sort of think that’s what funerals are for, in a way; to make us face mortality and the need to get it as right as we can while we’re alive. Dying isn’t the tragedy – it’s to die without living first. Seems to me you’re doing a pretty good job of living. .


  3. This was beautiful–simply beautiful. I am so sorry for your loss. I would hope to be known as a good wife, mother, and friend. As one who put others before myself. What a challenge. Thank you for sharing this. It truly touched me deeply.


  4. It’s hard to lose someone who has made such a big impression on your life. You hope that you can live up to the kindness/wisdom that they displayed with seemingly little effort.

    I agree with MJ @ bikerchick … your post implies that your heart is already in the right place, and therefore your words and actions can’t help but follow 🙂


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