||We each have our own personal
memories from times we shared with a friend or family member.
May we never forget that the character of a person isn't defined
by the job we have or how much money we make or have in the bank, what degrees
or awards we earned for
ourselves, the kind of car we drive, or where we
live. Character is how we live our lives and what we do for
Share with others the kind of person the friend or loved one was. It might be a
story that only you knew:
- Who was the most influential person in their life, in regards to
what made them the kind of person they were?
- What they enjoyed doing to help others...
- What was the most touching thing you ever saw them do?
- What were they most gentle with--grandkids, animals, the elderly, or
maybe it was those who were physically or mentally challenged.
- What did they do to give back to others? (Mentored? Foster parent?
Delivered Meals on Wheels?)
- Where did they attend church?
- Were the kind of clubs/organizations they joined something that
would serve others?
- What made them sad--maybe it was seeing people who were hungry or
hurting and what did they do about it?
- What did he/she get out of bed for each day?
- Volunteer projects they worked on?
- How long had you known them and how did you meet? what was it
that drew you to them?
- Who were some of their friends and did they have a
- A special recipe only they could make or one most requested by
- The subject that was most interesting to them?
- What makes you laugh when you think about them?
- Their favorite season and why? (Maybe they loved the snow and
sitting by the fire with hot chocolate or maybe it was the rowdy 4th
of July parties.)
- What bothered her/him? (snakes? mice? weeds in the yard? being late
for anything? Snobs?
- Any traditions...maybe at Christmas or on Saturday mornings
- What frustrated them-- car troubles?
- Hobbies or unusual interests, their passion?
- How did they meet their spouse? Their courtship?
- Did they sing in a choir? In the shower? Around the house? (Maybe
they couldn't sing but tried or maybe they whistled.)
- During his/her teen years they...
- Were there any struggles or challenges they overcame?
- What was their laugh like? Soft, robust?
- Favorite childhood toy or favorite childhood pet
- Were they named after anyone?
- Did they have a favorite flower?
- What was the furthest they had been away from home? Were there any special stories about that adventure?
- Strange foods or food combinations they liked
- Did they like to dress up or maybe blue jeans were their favorite
- Did they have a role model
- Who was their mentor
- Did they ever do something that they thought was fun but might
have embarrassed you had you been the one doing it?
- Did they collect anything?
- Did they have an outstanding physical characteristic--such as
beautiful hair, eyes, hands?
- Where did they attend grade school?
- What sports did they play as a child or at other times in their
- What color were his/her eyes?
- What funny sayings did they have?
- How did they discipline their kids--with "the look"? a
snap of the fingers? the "naughty chair", standing in the
- Was his/her youth spent on a farm or in town? And what did they do
in their youth?
- Any broken arms or legs as a kid, and if so how did it happen
- What did they name their animals?
- Birth order? Were they the oldest, middle or youngest?
- How many siblings did they have?
- Did they have a big laugh or a quiet one with a big smile?
- Did they have a funny way of talking with their hands or holding
their hands or maybe they had a funny stance?
- How did they meet their spouse?
- What was their birth order?Oldest, middle child? youngest?
- Anecdote from childhood?
- Foods? (maybe there is a food they hated)
- Dessert ?
- Car? (maybe it is some rusted out thing they just couldn't part
- Tradition? (It might be a holiday tradition or maybe wearing a
certain pair of socks on "game day"
- Sports team?
- Store where they liked to shop?
- Place and why it was his/her favorite place?
- Television program?
- Part of the newspaper?
- Impromptu thing to do (maybe it was to grab a blanket and go look at
the stars or throw together a meal for drop in guests)
- What other things brought enjoyment?
The Measure of a Man
Not- "How did he die?" --but "How did he live?"
Not "What did he gain?" But "What did he give?"
Not "What was his station" but "Had he a heart?"
And "How did he play his God-given part?"
Not "What was his shrine?" Nor--"What was his creed?"
But "Had he befriended those really in need?"
Not "What did the sketch in the newspaper say?"
But--"How many were sorry when he passed away?"
Was he ever ready with a word of good cheer,
To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
These are the units to measure the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of birth.
I read of a man who stood to
speak at the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning...to the end.
He noted that first came her date of birth and spoke the following date
But he said what mattered most of all Was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth...
And now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own; The cars...the house...the cash,
What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard...Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left, That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough to consider what's true and real,
And always try to understand the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives like we've never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect, And more often wear a smile..
Remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy's being read with your life's actions to rehash...
Would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?
-Linda Ellis 1996
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