How will your family remember you?


[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]

Whether one is rich or poor; loved or hated; president; prisoner or free, young or old, we all have one thing in common that is the equaliser for all of us…..we will all die one day. How we live our life;  our service to others or lack thereof; the extent of our love largely depend on us. We control how we are in the world in relation to others. What we do not control is when and how we die.

timerunningoutWhat will your family say about you when you have passed on? The people that you share life with on a daily basis, how do they know you? Do they even know you?  It is one thing to be known by the world; to be celebrated at church or at work but how do you relate to your husband? How do you to your relate to your wife?  How do you relate to your children? Do you make time for everybody else; everything else at the expense of those close to you or do they know that they are your priority? When you are laid to rest what will those who were close to you say…how would THEY remember you?  

Maya Angelou
When death comes,because it will, what will your children say about you? Globally people are shocked by the news of Maya Angelou’s death. She was loved; honoured and adored by many. There have been an outpouring of messages to her family; messages from presidents and ordinary people alike. She touched many through her poems; films; books and activism and she will be sorely missed. In the midst of all these messages there is one message that interested me…a message from her son, Mr Guy Johnson, who said “Her family is extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension. She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her….” Dr Angelou was 86!!

Another death that shocked South Africa was the death of Isaac Shakes Kungwane, the soccer legend who at 43 most feel died too soon. When one is older the family prepares itself for the inevitable…that their loved one will die but when one is young the reality still comes as a shock. Mr Kungwane is survived by his wife and three children. Three children who will never hear their father’s voice again. Who will never laugh at his jokes; will never see his face again. Who will never spend time with him again!!

There is sense of finality and loss that death brings; lost opportunities to tell your loved one how much they meant to you. I know about losing a loved one. I have lost precious people in my life; first the death of my beloved younger sister before she was a year old in 1985 and of my dad in 1997. I know how it feels to mourn the loss; to wonder how things would have been had the loved one not departed. In my case I often wonder what kind of woman Andiswa (my sister) would have grown up to be. What kind of father in law and grandfather would my dad have been if he met his son in law and his grandchildren.

Hugs that were never given
Many times great speakers and authors refer to the graveyard as the richest place in the world because there lies songs that were never sung; books that were never writen; businesses that were never started, inventions that never benefited mankind. What they never say is the graveyard holds hugs that were never given; “I love you” s that were never said. I am sorry’s that were never said.; special moments that were never shared such as a father walking his daughter down the aisle; seeing the birth of one’s grandchildren and having a relationship with future inlaws; graduations that were never attended; lunches; phonecalls; words of wisdom that were never spoken. 

One of the most tragic things you can do as a human being is to stop living while you are still alive. It is to die while you are still breathing. It is to be in a grave while you are still walking. One thing that all gravesites share is silence. There is no busyness in the grave. There are no meeting deadlines; meals to be made; dishes to be cleaned; there is just silence; an absence of warmth…This is a reality of so many spouses. They feel that they are in a dead marriage. There is no more communication; no fun; no laughter; no love; no warmth. JUST SILENCE!!!!

“My marriage is dead. It has been dead for years. We are just in it for the kids” How many times have we heard this from married people?

Gift of life
It is an incredible gift!!! LIFE!!! It is given and it can be taken away at any moment!! It is a sobering thought but life is indeed short. Do not live as one in the grave!!! Silent; no voice; hands tied. You are alive!!! Unlike the person who is deceased you have an opportunity to make amends. Your relationships cannot afford to wait until you die. Your family cannot afford to know you only through your death.

YOU HAVE TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!YOU HAVE NOW!!!!!!!!! People who are dead have no way of going back to put together the broken pieces of their lives. They do not have another chance to start over; to begin again…their sun is set. You have that opportunity!!! Right the wrongs in your family and invest in a better future and better present.

You and I have today to say the words that need to be said; to give the hugs that are needed; to ask for forgiveness and to give forgiveness. You and I have today to show our loved ones that we indeed love them; not to have them hear about us through speakers when we die one day.

One day your children will have something to say about you. Your wife, your husband will have something to say about you.

God forbid that when your day comes that your children will be embarrassed to call you their father, their mother.

Live out your vows, live out your love out loud before that day comes.

Until death do us part!! Married couples know this part of the vows very well. It is something that we say without giving it considerable thought. It is a reality that we will all face one day. It is a matter of who goes first. That reality came to my mother on 04 April 1997. She lost her life partner. What is not often mentioned is the fact that death parts children from their beloved parents, sisters from brothers, sons from mothers. Death parts us all.

When your day comes…WHEN YOUR SILENCE COMES… may it be a blessed going home not full of regrets with things still left undone…

Comments are closed.