I attended a memorial service recently.  It was not an overly sad occasion – the departed in her mid-eighties, having lived a full and happy life. She raised two children, and was grandma to 6 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. Her family described her as caring and devoted; her friends and neighbors remembered her hospitality and the pot of coffee that was always ready for morning and afternoon chats. For those whose lives intertwined with hers, she was remembered as a good listener, and a generous woman with her time, attention, and kindness.

The service was typical in every way, until the pastor stood to speak.  Usually in those settings the left-behind are encouraged to take comfort in their memories, and to consider their own eternal destinations, but this pastor began his commentary by challenging each person with one simple statement –

“You know, just as our departed did, everyone here is writing their own eulogy.”

I think in that moment he captured everyone’s attention, because we became very aware that how the departed conducted her life – her choices to be kind and giving, supportive and dependable – supplied all of the meaningful sentiment for that gathering. She had been writing a story spanning 85 years, and it was one of which she could be extremely proud.

As we go through each day, I believe it’s important for us to remember that our character and actions, the words we speak and the goodness we express, are writing the story that will be shared at our departure. Family and friends may speak on our behalf, but we ourselves will have provided them with the content.

I for one want the themes of my story to be thoughtfulness, generosity, devotion, helpfulness, and humor, to name a few. I want each chapter to inspire good memories that will be recalled and shared with generations to come. I want to write an amazing eulogy now, ensuring that there won’t be enough words to adequately describe how I blessed those who shared life with me.