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It’s been a week full of mixed emotions. My sweet grandmother passed away last Saturday morning. Her heart wasn’t strong enough to keep going any longer, and it was a blessing for her to go quickly and peacefully. I was fortunate to spend much of the last week with her, and we had some tender moments. She was witty and sweet until the end.

The next day I sat with my grandpa and we just talked about her. He remembered all sorts of random, beautiful things, like the fact that she was a great tennis player and always beat him! We talked about what he wanted for her funeral. The speakers, the music…what an odd thing to try and summarize an entire life in an hour and a half meeting. What do you say about a mother that has borne nine children and buried two of them before their time? What do you say about a wife that has been devoted and faithful to her husband for seventy years? What do you say about an artist that loved to paint, when she dared to steal the time away from her family? What do you say about the influence a grandmother has had on her 47 grandchildren and 90+ great grandchildren? What can you say- except we loved her.

We talked and laughed and cried as we remembered her life. Other beautiful things were happening. Cousins that hadn’t seen each other in years reunited. We met each others children and compared wrinkles. We caught up on the days, weeks and years we had lost without keeping in touch. Why does it take a funeral to help us all remember we are important to each other?

As I sat and looked at the sea of faces that look a little like mine, I started to think about the inevitable – who would come to my funeral, and what would they say?? What pieces in my life would have the most impact on others? It’s always a good reminder about what is really important. No one talked about what she wore or how clean her house was. No one talked about how busy she was or how many things she accomplished in one day. That’s what my life revolves around sometimes – and it doesn’t matter a bit. It was a great opportunity to reflect on what choices I need to make to ensure I’ve made a difference in someone’s life before I leave here!

My husband found a great quote that I thought summarized it very eloquently:

“Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves.”

So my goal is to take a lesson from my grandmother. She was depression-era, so she didn’t entertain a lot of needless wants. Without all that clutter, the complexity and labor in her life went away, and she was able to spend her time with her family and those that meant the most to her. It was a wonderful funeral and helped us all remember the angel we had for a grandmother. So spend a moment and think about what you would want said at your funeral, then go out tomorrow and do it! I’ll be there right along side, hoping to make my grandmother proud!

Dr. Michelle Jorgensen

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