While all funerals touch me in some way, one I recently attended hit me in a very unexpected way.
It was a small intimate gathering of family, friends and friends of family. The setting was a lovely tribute to Marilyn, an 86-year-old widow, mother, grandmother and friend.
A beautiful spray of pink roses (including one in the photo above), and several fragrant bouquets of fresh spring flowers were placed among photos that captured the journey of her life - including childhood jaunts, a chic 1950’s wedding pic, frolicking with her kids, doting on grandkids and travel adventures.
As the small group gathered, hugs were exchanged, memories shared and sympathies bestowed.
When the memorial service time neared, we took seats among assorted settees, sofas and folding chairs to hear stories and pay tribute. A few family members and friends stood to share stories of Marilyn -a lively character, and we enjoyed many surprises, smiles and laughter to accompany welling eyes and the trickle of tears.
For me, the most poignant stories came unexpectedly. They came not from family, but rather from individuals who claimed Marilyn as family.
One woman, who had lost her own mother at a rather young age, shared her story of how Marilyn had opened her arms and become a second mom to her, someone with whom she could share all of life’s ups and downs.
Another stood to pay tribute to this woman who became “Grandma B” to her two children. Her kids’ biological grandparents were a few hours’ drive out-of-town, and as she stated while fighting back tears, “they either couldn’t or wouldn’t attend the grandkids’ birthday parties and school functions.”
Grandma B made them a priority, and being there for these kids meant even more, as she had no obligation to be there – she CHOSE to be there.
I was so touched and reminded that what we’re dealt with isn’t what we have to stay with.
The roles we play can be chosen, and in the choosing have more reach and impact than we could ever imagine - in personal relationships or as a mentor, confidante or adviser in the workplace.
Roles or titles may describe, but they don’t define us and the far-reaching impression that we can have on others.
What lasting footprint will you make?
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Wishing you well!