On the same trip to the Netherlands, we went to see the gravesite of my Oma and Opa (grandparents). The funny thing about standing there was that everything they had done, worked on and built during their lifetime came down to a dash. A birth date, ‘a dash’ and a date of death.
Lives complete. Totally summed up in a dash.
The farm they built up and left behind – which is no longer in the family “-“.
The crops they planted and harvested “-“.The life they lived “-“.
How many of the things that we do on a daily basis are going to leave something of value behind? That ten million Dollars which cost every hour of everyday of a lifetime turns into a “-“ (which if that is all you have done becomes what the family fights over). Incidentally it doesn’t even get you a longer dash, or a curvy one or one that says anything about what you accomplished.
If I look at the contribution I made at a previous workplace, much of what was built has already been turned into something else or taken apart again. I find it disturbing that despite all the effort and work that we do, how little of it actually has meaning and can continue contributing to the world. Will the world know that I was in it and left it better than it would have been if I had not been here? So when I leave, what will I have done that stayed beyond that darn dash?
In tribute to those same grandparents are almost 100 (94 and counting) descendants of children and grandchildren still left behind (3 others have also subsequently passed including my father). Additionally there are a number of other families that also survived the war as a result of the efforts of my grandparents.
A well raised family goes beyond the dash. So here’s to all you parents who take your commitment and roles as parents intentionally and seriously. The efforts you are putting in right now in your families last beyond the dash. So take heart and do it well and take note; it’s the people that count.
So if there is going to be a birth date, a dash and a death date, I would like an additional phrase on my tombstone. “She died at 29”. At least, if nothing else, those who see it will look at the dates do the mathematics and scratch their heads asking; “Why 29”?
At least let the ‘why’ continue...