Monday, October 5, 2009
Section A Page 8
My muse, Buck
Two years ago when we celebrated the opening of the Miracle Field, I was unexpectedly asked to say a few words. For those of you who know me, you'll agree that the words "few" and "words" don't go together. Overwhelmed with incredible joy, relief and pride, I took the podium and drew a complete blank. Suddenly, out of my mouth, came this pearl that I now know is my mantra...."For the first half of my adult life, I was busy filling my resume. For the last half, I'm going to fill my obituary." blahblahblahblah......
I remember when I read Jim Loftin, Sr.'s, obituary when he departed this earth for his crimson and white resting place in heaven. It made such an impression on me the lives that he had touched; the hundreds of people that he had mentored, the thousands of hours that he spent working to raise awareness and money for those who had little to none. And there wasn't enough ink at the Dothan Eagle to list all the people that he made smile with his memorable personality. Me included. In between all the many charities and organizations that he had volunteered for over the years, tucked in between the awards and public recognition, there was one line that referenced a career--a job (the one that paid for all those shoes and college educations for all those younguns.) I decided then, that I too wanted a great obituary. I want people to miss me when I'm gone the way we miss Big Jim Loftin.
Now don't think I'm going to get all sappy and gloomy on you. Quite the contrary. Let's just talk about the qualities of said obit:
An old, black and white photograph that all my high school friends will quickly recognize and reminisce
My actual age, minus about 5
No mention of my career
How many loads of laundry that I washed and boo boos that I healed
How many times I attended 3 sporting events, simultaneously, at 3 different ball fields...
That I taught my children not to use the words, "normal," "hate," and "can't"
That I was crazy in love with my husband
That I was an advocate for the underdog
That I helped raise money for breast cancer research and Down syndrome awareness
That I helped special needs children have rights to an exceptional education
That I had awesome parents who loved each other forever
That I loved growing up in a very small house with a very big family
That I cried every time I saw an American flag blowing in the wind
That I tutored children who couldn't read
That I worked at Miss Tina's kitchen on weekends feeding the homeless
That I was a God-fearing woman who didn't deserve His love
That mental illness made me sad
That I treated everyone the same
That I loved politics and hated politicians (sorry Mayor)
That I loved my children more than life
That even though Ted made the living, I made it worth living
That I surely went to heaven and hopefully took a lot of folks with me
And still, that David Johnston entertained the crowd with his rendition of "I Can Only Imagine" and "Amazing Grace."
The irony is we're all faced with our own mortality. Some of us just a little more than others. But this story isn't about dying, it's about living. It's about finding a purpose, something greater than ourselves to invest in. What is your passion? What injustice drives you crazy? Making a difference in the lives of others isn't reserved for the wealthy. Your time and commitment are equally as valuable as any personal check. One day, if it hair-lips Hitler, I'm going to accomplish the things on my obit list above. Because the rewards that we reap when helping others is far greater than the investment. Even if it's an encouraging word and a smile to a total stranger. Make someones day. It could be your last.
Leaving for B'ham Tuesday morning. Romantic dinner with my sweetheart and day of tests and doctors appointments Wednesday @ UAB. I'll update you all when we get home.