A few days ago, I visited my dad’s gravesite. As I gazed at the tombstone, I was reminded of two things; the story of the "─", and a red walker.
A man had visited his father’s gravesite and had taken his son with him. His father and his son shared the same name . . . John Smith.
“What do you think is the most important thing on this tombstone?” he asked his son. As the son pondered seeing his own name on the tombstone, the father gave him a hint. “It’s between the two dates.” The son quizzically looked at his father.
“The headstone states your grandfather’s name, and the year of birth and the year of his death,” he explained. “But the most important thing is the dash between the years . . . the "─". Years from now, no one will remember anything about him. No one will even know he existed, but what will count is what he did with his life. His legacy will be what is left behind, be it good or bad. If you believe in God, one day you will be asked what you did with your "─".
I continued to think about the "─" on Dad’s marker as I recalled the impact that a red walker had on my life.
Many years ago, I volunteered in a nearby nursing home. My favorite thing was to gather the residents in the common area and read to them.
One night, I noticed a bright new shiny red walker outside one door as I knocked.
“I will call for someone to help me out of bed, Dear,” I heard from inside.
One couple lived together in the nursing home. I said hello as they walked toward me, but their eyes did not meet mine. They didn’t hear me. They were fixated on the red walker.
The walker was red, and shiny, and new ─ the crème de la crème of walkers. If BMW or Porsche had a walker in their line of cars, this was it. It had a place to sit, a cup holder, the best brake pads, a place for "stuff" and a clear coat finish to boot.
Everything that I thought was important was flashing before me ─ hard work which would pay off in worldly possessions. And the harder I worked, the more “stuff” I would accumulate; you know . . . things that would increase my sense of self-worth.
A lumped formed in my throat. It was then that I came to realize that as life draws to a close, the things that seem important, like money, prestige, or power, will not matter. If I'm lucky, I might have a room, a chest of drawers, and perhaps a shiny red walker.
“Stuff” won’t matter anymore. What will matter is how my life affected others . . . what will matter is what I did with my "─".