What got me thinking about this musing was my sometimes-late-at-night-when-alone reminiscing about my parents. Although they may not have thought of it when alive, they gave me so much to remember about them. It is my good fortune that all of my memories are fondly and lovingly recalled. When thinking about my parents or talking to others about them, I always think about one or more things about them that remain with me to this day. Mom’s cooking, dad’s rock-solid honesty – the list could go on and on.\
The memories that my parents gave me to remember them by always bring to mind the lyrics of a very old song. It is a song that Arthur Schwartz, composer, and Howard Dietz, lyricist, created for a 1930 Broadway show, Three’s a Crowd. The song is “Something to Remember You By.” And it is the first stanza of the song that always puts me in a reflective mood. The words are:
Oh, give me something to remember you by
When you are far away from me
Just a little something, meaning love cannot die
No matter where you chance to be
I mention all this because I sometimes wonder what those who outlive me will remember about me. Perhaps it will be my cooking which is passable. Maybe it will be my quirks when it comes to shopping in our local Publix grocery store. I am a pushover for their “buy one, get one free” specials and I have a pantry and freezer to prove it. I think I’d just as soon that no one recalls my failing attempts to play golf; if they do I’m sure it will be with laughter. I suspect my wife will recall my loathing to confront issues head on and my desire to avoid an argument at nearly all costs. I also suspect there may be things people will remember about me that I never gave a second thought about.
But to come full circle, I return to the title of this musing, “How will you be remembered?” I have no idea how many people and how often they think about the conversations family and friends may have about them when they no longer are around. Will you be thought about with love and affection by those nearest to you? Will the memories of you linger long beyond the time when you no longer are around? Has your behavior been such that almost no one has a good word to say about you? Will there be great memory when their thoughts and discussions turn to you? Will they lovingly laugh at some behavior or opinion of yours or will it be simply a good riddance? Which ones will actually think about you now and then as opposed to those with an out-of-sight, out-of-mind disposition?
You see, it may not be what you want them to recall but rather what they do recall that will define what impact you had on them. Sure, they can carve some germane thought on your tombstone but what they remember and whether it is for better or worse will be the final monument to your existence. Unless you truly don’t give a damn, what they remember will be your legacy – the final summation of your life.