“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I feel so very blessed to serve amazing people. I have been given the gift of being able to work with people at a really wonderful time in their lives. People share with me their hopes, fears, disappointments, accomplishments, and dreams. The people we serve bring a lot of wisdom to our relationship. I feel obligated to share what I learn from these folks because it has made my life better so I hope it makes yours a little better also.

One of the disadvantages of working with retiree’s is that I am exposed to things like dementia, disease and death more often than the average person my age. I’ve attended funerals, memorials, and celebrations of life. I recently had the opportunity to attend a celebration of life for a client, and I wanted to share what I learned.

Attending her service made me wonder if there was a formula you could construct for living a life worth celebrating. These are a few takeaways I garnered on what that celebration formula might look like. Below are some of the things I experienced directly from our relationship as well as things I learned about her from the folks who were also in attendance at her service.

1)  Touch – She had warm hands. Every time she came by my office the very first thing she would do was grab my hand with both of her hands look me straight in the eyes and ask, “How is your family?”

2) Ask questions & listen – Many people at her service mentioned that she was a good friend and great listener. She asked lots of questions and made you feel special and important. She genuinely cared about what was happening in your life.

3) Give – When she learned I enjoyed vegetable gardening, she sent me some heirloom tomato seeds from her garden for me to plant. Many told stories about how she would go out of her way to find out what people liked and then she would look for opportunities to be generous and give to others.

4) Care for people –  Her son told a story about how when they were kids on a family vacation his Mom saw a man who looked homeless on a bicycle. She approached this dirty man, introduced herself and found out he was attempting to ride his bike around the world. She invited this stranger to their home, and he lived with them for two weeks before they helped him get to the next leg of his journey. He became a family friend, and they stayed in contact her entire life.

5) Have Fun One neighbor stood up, who was responsible for managing the private gravel road they lived on. He said at the top of the road there were always deep grooves in the gravel because she liked to get in her 1967 convertible mustang, go to the top of the street and spin the wheels a few times before she would drive down the street. She stood a little less than five feet tall but had a GREAT BIG personality.

6) Believe  She believed in God and loved Jesus. What a comfort that was to her daughter as she stood before friends and family and said, “I know one day I’ll see my Mom again in heaven.” In my opinion her belief may have been one of the greatest gifts she ever gave.

The theme of the celebration was “love lives on”.  We were all given flowers to bring home and plant in our gardens. I hope sharing her story helps her legacy of love to live on. She had an impact on my life, and I hope this little snippet of her life may have an impact on yours.