Yesterday I had the honor of saying good bye to an older friend that might not be here by the time this blog is posted. He was one of the first people I met when I came to this mountain thirty-four years ago…. he has remained a steadfast friend for all those years.
I learned yesterday that he once guarded Adolf Hitler’s top officials right after the fall of Berlin——he never talked about it to me until yesterday. But such was his generation—they don’t brag or toot their own horns. I am sure my friend had his flaws, but I was unaware of them. He remained faithful to one wife his entire adult life, raised a son and was constantly near to his three grandchildren and attended the same little church for as long as anyone can remember.
What struck me most about this neighbor was how quickly he volunteered to help someone in need. Again, his help was always unannounced and he acted as if it were a natural thing to help a neighbor—-not a special expression of friendship, but rather the only thing that a normal neighbor would do.
As I talked to him yesterday and as I held his hand and prayed for him, I found it remarkable that the man had no regrets, no desire to correct something before he passed and no bitterness. Ah, to live to 82 years and look back at your life and have no regrets!
Two other acquaintances passed away this week and my own mortality was brought to my mind. What will I leave behind? What will be remembered of me? Will the room be poorer because I no longer enter into it, or a more relaxed place? What things that I said (in anger, in jest, sarcastically, or in love) will be repeated? What will people miss about me—if anything?
The last thing my father said to me was, “I’m sorry”, the last thing I said to him was, “It’s okay, don’t worry about it” when he died twenty-one years ago. Praise be to God, our conversation was not an argument or an angry word or some past peccadillo resurrected! Truly, I do not want to be remembered for all my blunders, or all the harsh things I said at the wrong time and in the wrong way, or the things that I did not say, that I should have said.
And so today I have been a bit more circumspect about what I say, how I say it and my facial expressions (which the seven year old quickly picks up on) and I am remembering my friend who lived a life with no regrets. I still have time to mend some fences and I can determine to leave behind a legacy that could be emulated rather than avoided.
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