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making a life

A few weeks ago we said our final goodbyes to Uncle Ross. We gathered in a church on a lovely Spring day and remembered his Very Good Life. I had said my final goodbye to him just a few days earlier when I stopped to visit at his bedside. He wasn’t able to say too much that day, but he did smile and he did say my name and he did seem to enjoy when I sang to him. He was my Great Uncle...the youngest brother to my Grandpa on Dad’s side. And he was great indeed.

Uncle Ross was a cowboy, a team roper, a farmer, a musician, a singer and the list goes on...but those are the titles that spring most readily to my mind. He was also a jokester, a giver, a smiler, a hugger...always ready to make someone chuckle and always ready to add his own contagious laughter to the mix. He said things like “goodness gracious snakes alive!” to express his enthusiasm, and “don’t you give those kids a hug for me” to end each phone call and remind us of how much he loved his wide, extended family. He was one branch on a beautiful tree filled with warm and loving people who are known for the way they touch others lives.

Have you ever done one of those exercises where you’re asked to write your own obituary? It’s quite something to stop and think about what you would want people to read. Would you talk about your worldly accomplishments? Would you list your family members? Would you implore people to take up a cause you were passionate about?

Uncle Ross had a long list of skills and accomplishments...but they weren’t the focus of our remembrance of him. The theme we kept hearing, and the most important thing as we all look back, is how he impacted those around him. How he moved through his time on earth with faith and gratitude and inspired others to do the same. He made people smile and laugh. He made you feel warmer and lighter in his presence. He was an all-around kind and generous soul.

Can you make a living being a wonderful person? Not exactly.

But it is the surest way, to make one heck of a great life.

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