How to be Remembered
I’ve always thought a lot about TIME—and how every spectacular sunset subtly marks its passage in daily increments. Nature itself is a ticking clock—sunrise, dawn, dusk, sunset, winter, spring, summer, and fall. To me, nature is an alarm clock that faithfully reminds me to make my life count. To matter. To be vital. Relevant. And to be remembered. We all spend our lives striving to be significant to others. So, I have found the notion of being forgotten someday disconcerting.
It makes me wonder what contributions in life are worthy to be remembered? How notable must our life be? How high our achievements? How profound our thoughts? How consistent our kindness? How sacrificial our unselfishness? How frequent our presence? How deep our love?
Throughout my life these questions have blown in and out of my mind, like a tumble weed in the desert wind. I’ve asked myself if my life will matter beyond my years. How can I—or my influence—outlive my life?
My father’s birthday was this week. If he were alive today, he would be 100 years old. When I contemplate his life, I’ve concluded that to make an enduring impression on another life, to provide guiding light, to craft character, to shape a legacy—you don’t need great achievements, profound thoughts, an enviable resume, elite status, or a magic wand. We simply need to make the “moments” matter in the life of another—because when we make moments matter, we make them sacred. And sacred moments are memorable moments.
When I think of my father’s gentle, yet powerful influence on my life it was never about total time invested, it was about sacred moments shared. Moments of insight, direction, and perspective. One of these moments was when I stopped by to see him shortly after I was married, fifteen years after my mother died of cancer.
My parents were married a brief seventeen years and had six children. His devotion to her would never give himself permission to remarry. In his mind, even death didn’t release him from his vow to her—and I admired him for it. He was a remarkable man. Strong enough to raise six kids alone, humble enough to never draw attention to himself, and private enough to never intentionally share his feelings. Until now.
As I talked about my recent marriage, he turned to me and quietly said, “Not a day goes by that I don’t think of your mother.” It was a common refrain since her passing. It was an expression of devotion, not complaint.
I nodded. “I know,” I said, as I glanced at my new wedding band and slowly slid it off my finger.
“What did you just do?” he asked abruptly.
Surprised, I said, “Nothing. I just slid my wedding ring off my finger.”
“Why would you do that?”
“What do you mean, Dad?”
“Do you take your wedding ring off often?”
Then I realized my father was going to take me to hallowed ground—his heart.
He glanced at his ring-less left hand. “I told your mother at our wedding that when she placed the ring on my finger, it would never pass the end of my finger again as long as she lived,” he said quietly.
I knew the rest of the story. Seven years after my mother died, a jeweler had to cut his wedding ring off his finger because it was too tight. For almost 25 years, his wedding ring never passed the end of his finger.
Sacred moments. These are the things we remember. These moments, and the people who share them, are what endures. No high achievements needed to permanently etch these moments in our memory.
As we reflect on the people that have been instrumental in our lives this Thanksgiving and holiday season, perhaps there is no reason to worry about being forgotten, if we consciously strive to make moments, even everyday moments, sacred.
SOMETHING TO CHEW ON: We live life in “minutes,” but we remember it in “moments.” With Christmas coming, how might you make sacred moments with the people you love this year?
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