We are meeting to decide what to put on mom’s headstone. These are the kinds of things you never plan for but they are inevitable in all of our lives. You only have a small space and it is impossible to put everything on it. Soon we will have digital headstones with scrolling information and we will see the old stone markers as archaic. Until then, we have to come up with one or two words that describe mom.
“Beloved Grandmother” comes to all of our minds. That’s what her grandkids want to say. What about mom’s parents? They would have wanted to put “beloved daughter.” And what about what dad would say and all of the people who were who friends? This makes me wonder about what was going in in my grandmother’s mind on July 7th, 1938 before mom was born. Did she have a name picked out? How hard was it to pick out a name with that many children? What did they want her to become? It seems like this exercise of choosing something for one’s resting place brings up a lot of issues! I know that we will put her birthdate and the day that she died with a big dash in the middle. There is more to the story than that but with today’s stone markers, you don’t get a lot.
This leads me to ask a lot of other questions about myself. If I had to come up with one or two words for my burial place what would they be? My children will never have to do this because Kim and I are both being cremated and my burial place will be on a windy beach or the sand trap of a golf course. But I am struggling with my eternal identity. ‘Beloved Preacher” seems cold and “Pastor for Eternity” too haughty for me. I’d like to be known as a great dad but that will not separate me from the other urns. I think Kim would just put a big smiley face on me and that might seem disrespectful to some.
I’m headed to make a decision that will last a long time but I probably need to spend even more time considering my own reputation. Do I want to be known by my heart or my profession? Is my eternal reputation going to be as the head of a family or the leader of a congregation? It does make one thing sure. I’m going to be finished work today before 5:00 so that I can make homemade pizzas and snuggle up with our kids to start the Star Wars Trilogy. It’s interesting how a headstone can set your priorities.