With the holidays over and a new year born, I have been in a reflective mood. I’m sure it has to do with the fact that we lost a very significant family member this past year, which left a hole that no one can ever fill. Through the process of grieving, I remember not only the lost loved one, but the many others now missing from my life, which has put the question into my mind: how will people remember me?
When my mother passed away, 19 years ago this month, I remember feeling a wave of fond memories of her. Anyone who knew my mother well enough knew that in her later years she could be very difficult to get along with at times. She suffered from debilitating chronic pain, and there was not one hour of any day in her last 15 years on earth when she was not in constant pain. She could be very harsh at times and hurtful with her words. Being older myself, I now know that was the pain talking and not my real mother’s heart. But at the time, when I was in my 30s, I did not understand. So why, upon hearing of her passing from this world, did I experience that instant healing from all the bad memories of the times my mother had hurt me? Was it because she was now free from her pain and once again happy? Or was it because all the negatives had passed with her and were no longer an issue?
I still remembered the times I had not gotten along with my mother for whatever reason, and all of those memories were there if I chose to confront them, but instead I felt this peace in my heart that there was no need anymore. And when I did force myself to remember something negative, it no longer affected me. The love was greater! I felt content in remembering every good thing about my mother and in feeling the love from her in those memories. It felt right. And I felt very blessed for it! Please don’t get me wrong, my mother was a great woman and she did many, many things right! Unfortunately, it is human nature for us to remember, and to spend more time and energy on something a loved one has done to hurt us. The good things become clouded with the pain.
I noticed that the same thing happened to me with my dad’s passing 8 years later, which was another welcomed blessing. Then I got to thinking that maybe this was God’s way of comforting us, as His promise is to comfort us in our grieving. So maybe that is the answer as to why.
I have recently witnessed this again through the experience of my own children, as the loved one we all lost last year was their dad. My ex-husband, who had remained a close friend, had suffered for years with a lot of problems, sometimes very serious problems that not only affected him but everyone who loved him, especially our children. But I watched each of my daughters be blessed by the same experience I had when grieving over my own parents, an overwhelming remembrance of the good things that were very much a part of their dad. He was a very good man! And sometimes that got lost in all of his problems, so it did surprise me that my children remembered so many good parts of their dad. I had always thought that the painful times would leave a permanent cloud over their relationships with him, but much to my surprise, and relief, each of my daughters received the blessing that I had with the loss of my parents in that they can speak so highly of the real man their dad was—his goodness, his love for them and for others, and all the wonderful parts that made him who he was. It makes this mom’s heart so full to see my daughters have this positive experience through something so monumental as a parent’s passing.
So back to my question: how will people remember me? I can’t seem to grasp the thought, or vision, of being remembered with such love and adoration as I have remembered my parents, and how I have seen my daughters remember their dad. Maybe I’m not supposed to. Maybe none of us are. Maybe that is something that is only left behind for our loved ones when we are gone. Our way, or God’s way, of comforting them in their time of grief.
But how wonderful it would be if we could put aside all of those differences, conflicts, hurt feelings, and remember only the good parts of those loved ones while were all still on the earth together, if we could remember only the positives that are indeed stored in our minds right along with the bad! Why is the negative always in the front of our brain’s filing cabinet? It seems to be human nature, but is there a way that we can change it? I think it is worth a try. How much happier everyone involved could be!
It is my hope that I will be remembered as making a positive impact on those I love. My biggest hope is that they will know, without a doubt, how much I love them. I hope they will remember how hard I tried at life, and even though I may not have succeeded in all things they feel are important, that I did succeed in what God put me on the earth to accomplish. I hope they will be happy they knew me, and proud of the person I was. And I hope that, just maybe, I did something so right that they even learned an important lesson from me, something that will be of great help to them after I am gone. How will you be remembered? Something to ponder. …JoAnn