I went with my granddaughter, Cordelia, to the library and thought about my eulogy. The morning hadn’t begun that way. I was there for story time with my grandchildren, not a reflection on my mortality and legacy.
However, God has a sense of humor and a way of sending gentle reminders. This day, my reminder was my then five-year-old granddaughter. She came running to me smiling and saying, “Grandma, I found something in a book that you will like!”
With the unbridled excitement she always possesses, she shouted her discovery to everyone in the children’s room of the local library. As she held the book behind her back, a few onlookers and I wondered what it would show. I thought that maybe it would be poetry or something inspiring or religious. I was proud that my granddaughter would associate me with reading. A moment later I was humbled.
She pulled out an alphabet book. She turned to the letter D and announced, “Look, Grandma, donuts!”
Everyone in the room laughed, including me. Well, I thought, if I’ve got to be known for something, then there are a lot worse things than donuts. One woman said she liked donuts too and pretended to take a chocolate donut from the picture book. In all seriousness, Cordelia said, “No, not that one. My grandma always gets the chocolate one.” I realized that I am known not just for donuts but for always getting the chocolate one.
This story makes me laugh as I think back to that day. But being known for liking donuts was more than a funny story, it was an epiphany. It got me thinking about how people see me and how I see myself. The experience made me ask myself for what do I want to be known. I wondered what would be said at my funeral—which, by the way, I hope is not soon.
But I was serious. I kept thinking, “What would my eulogy include?”
Well, my granddaughter was right about the food connection! I am sure that someone in my family would mention my love of chocolate and baking. And there also might be some praise for my meatballs and Irish bread.
However, I think my family also should be honest and note that I never truly learned to parallel park and have been known to speak before thinking.
It also might be said that I hope heaven looks like Fenway Park in Boston—but with lots of books and coffee.
Mostly, though, I want to be remembered as someone who loved her family totally, and sometimes that meant buying them donuts—even as I seemed to claim the chocolate ones.
Stop for a few minutes to think about your own eulogy. It might not be the most cheerful topic, but it just might help you appreciate yourself a bit more or work on changing a few things. Ask:
- How do people see me?
- How do I really think I am?
- Is there a difference? Why is there a disconnect?
- How can I be more genuine?
- How can I be less afraid to be my true self?
- How can I feel enough?
- What can I do to sort out all of this?
Then rejoice in being alive. And maybe have a donut to celebrate.