My brother Jonny and I first experienced the death of a family member when we were in high school. He was a freshman and I was a senior when our father's beloved sister, Dee, transitioned from earth into heaven.
It was a family tradition for us to visit Aunt Dee, and her husband and children, on Labor Day weekend. It was always a fun time of outdoor activities and games, and a nearby state fair.
Each day Aunt Dee would hand Jonny and me a wooden bowl and ask us to gather cherry tomatoes from her garden. Sunflowers, her favorite flower, were in abundance in her yard. With her bright smile (and delightful laugh that seemed to radiate from inside her very soul!) I can understand why her spirit was drawn to such a happy-looking flower.
On the drive to New England to attend the funeral, Jonny and I quietly conversed about Aunt Dee. Jonny stated that he would remember her whenever he saw a sunflower, as that was his favorite blossom, too. I said that I would remember her whenever I saw her favorite shade of deep bluish purple. We both agreed that the smell of freshly picked cherry tomatoes would always take us back to Aunt Dee's vegetable garden, and the many times she asked us to gather the "small tomatoes" as she called them, for that dinner's salad.
Dee was one of those rare individuals who was loved by everyone who met her. Her funeral was so well attended that I don't think an open seat remained in the large chapel. There were many people who spoke at her funeral, including one lovely lady who wore a scarf in the very shade of purple that was Aunt Dee's favorite, and all the tributes were filled with compliments to Dee and fond memories.
However, the nicest eulogy I heard was the first thing Jonny spoke as we drove away from the cemetery. "She was always happy, and she was always kind."
Of all the things to be remembered for after one is gone, being always happy and kind are among the best.
I imagine Aunt Dee's heaven contains a beautiful field of sunflowers, perhaps with some purple violets mixed in. She certainly gave me a standard to live by. "She was always happy, and she was always kind."
Dearest friends, let us take a moment to close our eyes and imagine what people will say about us after we have our "ultimate graduation" and move from earth into heaven. What words will people most correlate with you? Will it be something positive, such as loving or peaceful. Or will those words be negative, such as workaholic or angry.
If you don't like the images that come to mind and if you believe in your heart that the first words others would associate with you need some improvement, I gently urge you to begin making changes in your life. It is never too late to start re-creating yourself. It is never to soon to allow yourself to love.