I attended the funeral of my great-uncle (maternal side) Saturday morning who died last week at the age of 98. Until a few weeks ago he was living fairly independently and in great spirits. His decline was rapid, and from the reports by his very large family, he was quite ready to meet death as a man of traditional Christian faith.
In January I witnessed the struggle of another uncle (paternal side) who passed away at age 86 from complications due to congestive heart failure. He, too, faced death without fear because he possessed the strength of his Christian faith. This uncle’s passing triggered my commitment to better health.
Both of these men left important, positive legacies with their families. Both had seen the world change in unimaginable ways, and they both had adapted to the changes with smiles on their faces, and without getting caught up in the moment. Both were grounded in a deep faith, a love of life and family, and a sense of contentment that I have rarely seen from anyone else. Both knew how to laugh, to tell great stories, and to listen intently when children spoke to them. Both exuded kindness in heaps.
The church was full today for the funeral of my great-uncle. There was much laughter, and love overflowed.
Two take-aways for me
- Worthwhile legacies are not built upon good intentions or last-minute adjustments in one’s character in anticipation of death. They are built over a lifetime of consistency, integrity, thankfulness, and contentment.
- The measure of success in life is in the quality, depth, and love one gives in all his relationships.
As I discover my own path in the aging process, I am more aware than ever before of the importance of love and integrity. I have had many great examples in my family. I have been blessed with great gifts.