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I went to a friend's funeral today. There was standing room only. As tears flowed from nearly everyone present, I was thinking about my own epitaph on my grave, and my own inevitable funeral to be. What would it say? Would scores of people show up to mourn my passing? How would I be remembered? Would they miss me as much? How much would they cry?
Have I lived a life that is reflective of all the values instilled by my parents? Have I attempted to stay on the narrow path? Have I learned things on my own, or does my only knowledge come from what I have been taught? Have I given back something good to this world, instead of simply taking and seeing what I could get by sheer greed and ambition? Would my high school class remember me by who I was in high school, or who I was not? Have we grown on the inside, or with only luxury homes and new cars? How would personal success be measured? Would it still be defined by materialism or the contentment of living with the bare necessities?
I can imagine someone reading the eulogy, "Randy was a decent man, with a great sense of humor." Would it go on to say the humor was to cover up sadness, or, on the other hand, to realize the levity of life in so many everyday situations that we take too seriously? Would people think I was trying to be someone I am not, and yet others would see I could be anyone I wanted?
Would they think I was irresponsible and let that mold hold permanent in their perception of me, or would they know I know I am responsible for my own actions as a man, and I expect nothing less from all adults? Would my colleagues see me as an "OK" worker, or would they see I really wanted to do my best?
Would my epitaph reveal that family is what I value most, and that making amends to all those I have done wrong in my life is something I wish could happen before I die? So if you are reading this, and you remember me as someone who crossed you in a bad way, please consider this my apology. I know who you are. I hurt you along the way, and I am sorry.
What legacy will linger after I am gone? Will my children be proud of how many people I touched and helped? Or will they bow their heads in shame of something I may have done? Will people show up to my funeral just to see a few others there, and then possibly, in their last final judgment of me, walk away feeling sorry for me because more did not attend?
And it's not too late. Perhaps it won't matter to me on the other side; my life here will be finished. But for my loved ones (and I realize that encompasses many, many people because love is what connects us all), I want them to see my "standing-room only" funeral just like my friend's.
Randy Rider, a writer and educational consultant, lives in Norman.
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