A friend invited me to read James Herriot’s books, the ones he wrote in the mid 1900s about his experiences as a veterinarian in England early that century. I’ve always loved animals and considered becoming a vet when I was young, so his book was enticing.
I checked out All Things Bright and Beautiful at the library and understood my friend’s love for Herriot’s books and language.
Reading Herriot’s description of the people and animals he encounter was often funny, sometimes sad, but always entertaining. Herriot wrote frequently about his wife, them only newly married in this particular book.
Herriot said of her, “She was always kind.”
That description stayed on my mind for a while. “She was always kind.” I would like to be remembered that way.
In 2007, a movie called The Bucket List was shown in theaters across the country. It was a comedy-drama starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Two terminally-ill men shared a hospital room, and because their lives were nearing the end, they decided to do and experience things before they “kicked the bucket.”
It became their Bucket List. As a result of the movie’s popularity, people began making their own lists of goals, dreams, experiences, places to visit, and people to meet, with nothing being too lofty or extravagant for the list.
There are websites that will help you understand, envision and make your own list.
I understand the idea. If we never set our sites on something, we will never try to reach the goal. I’ve been a list-maker and a goal-setter for a long time, so I get it, and I appreciate the focus required to strive for something.
I made a simple bucket list once, thinking outside my ordinary box to dream big. Through the years, I’ve crossed off some things as achieved, some as not-gonna-happen, and some that are no longer important to me.
As my years add up, what I think of more often is the legacy I will leave behind. I’m not talking about bank accounts, houses and land as an inheritance in monetary terms. Instead, I think about what people will say when I’m gone. How will I be remembered?
“She was always kind,” would be on my legacy bucket list.
There are some other ways I would like to be remembered.
- She was a good listener and a safe place to express oneself.
- She was real, not a fake.
- She prayed for you when she said she would.
- She was the kind of wife whose husband trusted in her, and she spoke well of him.
- She loved her children and grandchildren unconditionally.
- She was a loyal and true friend.
- She gave of herself and her resources.
- She had real joy in this life and hope for the next one.
- She knew Jesus and her life reflected Him.
I’ve walked by many caskets in funeral homes. I’ve heard stories of the deceased and told some of my own memories. It is sometimes serious and sometimes joyful, and a combination of both, remembering the life lived.
When it’s my time to die, and all of us have that appointment, I want to have lived out my days with joy and gladness. I want to have loved with abandon. I want to have treated people right, with respect and honor. I want Jesus to shine brightly through me.
And I want to always be kind.