A gravestone is often marked with the birth and death dates and sometimes a single line written by children of the deceased.
My family and I went to Emley’s Cemetery in Imlaystown, New Jersey with cameras and equipment to take photographs of stones. While we were setting up the tripod between stone shots I was thinking about something I had heard many years ago: If your children were to write your epitaph tomorrow, what do you think they would write?
Epitaphs are usually a short note, sometimes about a person’s career or hobby, often about family and from one word like ‘Mother’ to several lines used to describe the person or define the sum total of their life. Some are quite somber and others are quite funny, saying a bit about the kind of personality the person might have been.
What would I want people to know about my life? I have done many things but two things I am most proud of would be my children and my volunteer service. Thinking about my children though, I don’t know what they would write.
Would they remember all the crafts we did together or the movies we watched while munching popcorn? Will they think of the private family jokes or all the silly things we laughed about? There were school projects and trips to school and the yearly car trips home to North Carolina, I wonder if they will think of those. Will they remember the homemade toys I made for them?
When it comes right down to it, our kids are all that really matter. If I did my best every single day I will let go of this concern as I will of writing the epitaph. I put it squarely into their hands.
No matter where you stand with your kids there is good news— your children are still growing and you can make changes now if you want. The bad news is that you cannot start over; you’ve got to start from today. Today is day one. It’s all in how you think about it.
One… two… three… GO!