Years ago, I attended my father-in-law's retirement party. His colleagues and friends celebrated his extraordinary career spanning 40+ years. Many people shared their thoughts on this special man -- extolling his remarkable skill in his chosen field, praising his intellect, mentioning many acts of his kindness, and sharing the love the and affection they had for him. My father-in-law stood up after the speeches, and in his characteristic clever way, smiled and said, "I had to pinch myself to make sure I was still alive. I thought you only heard things like this in the eulogies at your own funeral."
My father-in-law's comment popped into my head when I was actually at a funeral for a dear friend's mother last week. This exceptional mom, grandma, girlfriend and devoted family member had passed away after an extraordinary life and valiant fight against illness. At the end of the service, the person sitting next to me whispered out loud, almost to herself, "Rest in peace."
And then it came to me, a new tradition, we should "rest in life" -- tell people memorable things about them on an annual basis. I don't think Hallmark makes "Rest in Life" cards YET, but you never know, this might really catch on.
Now some who know me probably don't think I need to add another event to my calendar. In my family, we already do a lot of poem writing, speech making, scrapbook creating and event commemorating. We celebrate birthdays, half birthdays (one in particular), anniversaries, new jobs, leaving on a trip, coming home from a trip, graduations from pre-school, high school, driving school, basket-weaving school, you get the idea.
But I defy the doubters and inaugurate the first annual "Rest in Life" holiday in honor of mother's day and my mom. Here is a sampling of the some of the cards I will buy for my mom when this catches on. Each one would say "Happy Rest in Life" to my mom and might contain any of the messages below. Note: Revise them so they fit for your mom!
- Thanks for sounding excited every time I call or seeming truly glad to see me -- as if I have made your day. Gotta say, that doesn't happen that often in my regular life.
- You showed me how to laugh often (no matter where we are) and cry when I need to. I think I really have gotten that crying thing down. Perhaps you overdid that one.
- Without you, I would not have learned that any woman's fashion spectrum can go from truly shabby to totally chic or as we say from "before" and "after." And seriously, thanks for showing me how to put on make-up. Many consider this a public service.
- From you, I learned to be able to prefer to speak in superlatives. You describe things with colorful, extreme words like spectacular, moving, beautiful, heartbreaking, agonizing, unbelievable, life changing -- but never VANILLA.
- Who else still wants me to call her to make sure I got home safely or that my plane touched down or that I got to my destination alive EVERY TIME I go anywhere -- even though I am just a stone's throw my getting an AARP card.
- Thank you for driving everywhere, picking me up anywhere, and encouraging me to see the world -- even if sometimes your driving outfits were questionable (let's leave it at that).
- You have mastered the art of being able to laugh at the SAME story after 1,000 retellings. And still think it is funny. I need some help with this one with my own kids, who sometimes respond to my oft-repeated stories with, "Not that one again" or a serious eye roll.
- You seem to find me interesting even when I bore myself. I find that a lovely quality.
- Remember when I accidentally went to the top of the ski mountain by myself when I was little and thought that I would slip off the chairlift into the huge snowy abyss below and break into a million pieces. And then you made me get right back on the proverbial horse -- and the real life chairlift. That changed my life!
- You are a great cheerleader for me in life.
Happy Rest In Life and until that becomes a real holiday, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!