My (paternal) grandmother died four days before Christmas. She’d been sick for about a month. Just as I had come to terms with the fact that she was most likely going to die, she seemed to take a turn for the better. About a week later, she was dead. So it was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. However, the good part about it all was that my grandmother was 95 years old. So she had lived a long and fruitful life. On top of that, she was prepared to die. Not just figuratively but very literally.
As we began entering into conversations with my cousin about funeral arrangements, I discovered two things: my grandmother had already picked out the outfit she wanted to be buried in, and she had already written her obituary. These two things showed me just how wise a woman she was. Not to sound morbid, but if you’re blessed to live to see 70, you definitely need to start thinking seriously about end-of-life things. (However, if you live in Chicago, you’d best make your arrangements as soon as you exit the womb. But that’s a different post for a different day.)
The fact that my grandmother had taken the time to write her own obituary really stuck out to me. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to review 80 or 90+ years of your life. Think of all of the emotions you would experience. But then it got me to thinking. What would my obituary look like today? What about 50+ years from now, should I be blessed enough to live to be my grandmother’s age? The good thing is that I still have a chance today to write my obituary by being intentional about my actions. Another elder reminded me of that last week.
Dr. John Perkins started off a Bible study by saying, “If I only had one more hour to live, this is what I would tell you.” He then went into a passionate lesson about the sacred trust of leadership – and passed the mantle of leadership on to me and my colleagues. I hope that I can live up to his expectations. And I hope that when someone is reading my obituary decades from now, they will walk away knowing that I used all my gifts and abilities for good, that I poured myself out for the sake of the Kingdom.
As we move into Black History Month, I nod to my past by honoring elders such as my grandmother and Dr. Perkins. I look back so that I can move forward . . . and I move forward with the intention of not just celebrating history but seeking to make history.
What about you?