Next time you attend a funeral, listen to the conversations about the deceased. I’m not talking about the carefully crafted, flowery words of the eulogy. I’m talking about the side conversations in the hall ways and outside the building. These are the conversations that reveal who the person was and the impact they had on others.
When I die, I want to leave good funeral stories. I want my family to talk about:
- The unintentionally goofy things. Like the family vacation in Florida when I unknowingly entered the ladies restroom and walked out to the thunderous applause of my family.
- The check-your-pride-at-the-door things. Like the time my wife came home from work and found me playing Pretty Pretty Princes with my daughters…complete with ear rings and tiara.
- The protective dad things. Like the time I shadowed my daughter on her first trip to the mall with her friends…four stores behind them, trying to be inconspicuous and awkwardly ducking behind things when they turned around. It was a long night for both of us.
- The give-your-wife-a-break things. Like the Friday nights my daughters and I camped out in the living room to give my wife some time to herself. While she relaxed in the bedroom, we roasted marshmellows over candle flame, watched movies, and slept in sleeping bags on the floor. Well, we tried to sleep.
- The you-were-there-when-I-needed-you things. Like the time I drove an hour and a half to pick up a daughter and her friends after they had hit a dear on their way back to college.
- The you-surprised-the-socks-off-of-me things. Like the time I actually remembered my anniversary and showed up at my wife’s place of work with flowers…only to catch her on the one time she had actually forgotten.
I also want to leave good funeral stories for my friends. I want them to talk about:
- My quirky characteristics. Like keeping superhero action figures in my office, listening to the Grateful Dead while working, or going home to read comic books at lunch.
- My laughable helplessness in the area of home repair. Like the countless times I would turn a 15 minute repair job into an all day project…and then still need someone to come and fix it.
- The things I taught them, unknowingly. Like the times when people would say, “I remember when you said _____ and it changed things for me.” I usually didn’t remember saying these things. (Ok, maybe that one is just 0ld age.)
- Times I didn’t really know what to do or say…and it was obvious. Like what happens most of the time with me.
Now I’m not naive. I know I’ll leave behind some not-so-good stories. Stories of focusing on a C rather than the A’s and B’s. Stories of not getting back with someone who needed to talk to me. Stories of me talking when I should have been listening.
I want my family and friends to be very honest and open about these darker stories, but I hope the more goofy, can-you-believe-he-did-that type of stories will out weigh the darker stories. I want to leave people with good funeral stories, and not just courteous pleasantries that stretch the truth and say little.
What does any of this have to do with marriage? Think about it. Which marriage do you think leaves the better funeral stories…the angry marriage, the indifferent marriage, the too busy marriage, or the warm and playful marriage?
Ever thought about what you want people to say about you when you die? Leave a comment and tell us something you hope will be one of your good funeral stories.
copyright © 2014 Bret Legg