Probably my most watched and favorite movie is Out of Africa.
So many reasons for this that are beyond the scope of this post… not least of which is I have been on the farm at the foot of the Ngong Hills and in the house of Karen Blixen.
Past the midpoint of the movie, Karen Blixen is reflecting after her years in Kenya and says:
“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?”
I think most people get to a point in their life when they reflect on who they are and what they’ve done with the days they’ve been given.
Will they remember me?
Last night I got the phone call that my dad had passed away. He was 82.
I am not going to go into the details of the relationship my dad had with his 2 children. He wasn’t there during the “raising years.” But, we began to do some things together throughout my married years, mostly on a holiday or a trip from Texas to Illinois in the summer. My sister began doing the same thing with her family.
Nevertheless, there weren’t many memories and life lessons to reflect on as I have thought about his life the last 48 hours… at least in the traditional sense. But I have my share of memories from the last 30 years – and so do I my kids with their grandpa.
There is definitely an emptiness in the space he used to occupy in the family tree above me, and a few “I wish I woulduvs…”
My dad accomplished quite a few things in business during his peak and was well rooted in the Shriners and Abraham Lincoln museum. He was once one of the most sought after programmers in the state of Illinois – long before most of the world knew what a programmer was.
I am very grateful that we had time – that dad got to know me, my wife, and my kids… and that they go to know their grandpa. I can certainly look back and smile.
Will They Remember Me?
So, we now come to the title of this post: Will they remember me?
It matters little of your business accomplishments. They are remembered but for a moment. Even if you’re Thomas Edison or Steve Jobs… it’s a shallow swim to only give accolades for a person’s accomplishments. The deeper dive comes with relationships.
Go back and re-read that quote from Karen Blixen. She isn’t asking if her accomplishments will live on. She is asking if she made an impact in the people and places she touched and poured her heart into.
When my day comes… will my wife, my kids, my sister, my cousins, nephews and nieces, my friends… will they remember me, recall memories, pull out old photos, tell crazy stories, tell sad stories, laugh until it hurts, create a “Rich-ism” from something I used to say and do, tell about how I loved Jesus, talk about how I walked to the beat of a different drummer, how I listened, how I gave them time, how I bought a sack of groceries for a stranger, how I was generous, how I baited the hook and let them catch the big fish, the vacations we took, the mission trips, the forgiveness I asked for and the forgiveness I gave, the hope I gave, the peace I demonstrated, my convictions, how lucky I was to have Traci, how I was faithful to my wife, my faith in God, my green lawn, how I tried, that I was decent and fair, that I lived my life never drinking more than about 4 ounces of alcohol, how much I truly loved my kids and want the very best for them, and God knows what else…
I don’t want to be remembered for my job or how I gave so many years of my life to “the company.” That matters for [snap your fingers] that long.
The fact is, I want to matter and I don’t want to be easily forgotten.
So dad, it wasn’t the most ideal father-son relationship. We both knew that. But, I am grateful that we finished well — and quite frankly, that’s all that matters.
I remember when you came by the house when I was about 10 or 11 and you took me out and bought me a Crossman 761XL bb-gun. I loved that gun!
But, more than anything, I will remember the last 6 months when you told me you were proud of me and that you loved me.
Thank you! Love you too dad!
The good news is…
…in the final few years of my dad’s life he turned to Jesus!
And more good news…
…because of his decision to turn to Jesus, the relationship will continue for eternity.
So really, what really matters is what you remember to do with Jesus and what you do with others to lead them to Jesus.
This ain’t your practice life.
Do what matters most and “they” will remember you forever!
Will I be remembered? It’s not “an ego” question. It’s basically a question if I am doing what matters most in life.