There is a poem that writes about the “dash” that says what matters is not the day we start and end our life as much as what we do in the ‘in between’.
I have been thinking about this a lot this week as I had the privilege to honour the passing of my husband’s grand father Alan who had lived 97 years. And in those 97 years he managed to accumulate 13 children, 34 grandchildren and 47 great-great children. If you are doing the math, that’s 94 direct descendants. Aka a lot.
Needless to say, it was quite a celebration of life.
And although I don’t know a lot of people who would say that funerals are easy, but I think the rituals surrounding a death are an important part of the grieving process. I find them to be beautiful and poignant and this one was particularly so. Every step of the way there were personal items, stories, collections and photos to remind people of the ‘dash’ that had been lived.
But it is what was behind the scenes that is maybe the best part of this story. In Alan (and Vera’s) home where they raised and gathered this epic family for the past 72 years, there is this fantastic door in the kitchen. And on this door you will find the names of all the children who ever lived or came into this house and the dates when they got "measured up".
It was an important part of coming to Nana and Papa's house.
Children who came into this home were seen. Noticed. And stood by the door to see how much they had grown since their last visit.
And isn’t that what life should really be about?
These three things can be found at the heart of anything successful and good. Families. Friendships. Companies. Communities. Corporations. Organizations. Groups with humans. When people feel significant and appreciated, well, magic happens.
I think Alan would feel pretty proud to have the ritual of truly seeing and celebrating people to be the legacy he passed on.
So here’s to remembering what matters (writing on doors optional but recommended!).