A Father Asks: How Do I Want to Be Remembered?
How do you want to be remembered?
I recall reading a quotation from George Harrison, the famous former Beatle. Someone asked him how he would like to be remembered after his death. He replied that he would prefer “not to be remembered at all.”
Seems like a funny answer since most of us spend a lot of time trying to create a life’s work that is worth remembering. It made me ask myself the question: how would I like to be remembered? More specifically, how would I like to be remembered by my family, or even more specifically by my children?
But then, I realized that I don’t have much control over how they will remember me. And I began to wonder how they would actually remember me. What will stand out after I am gone?
Will I be remembered for my eccentricities? For all of the personal quirks that I have? Those things that are out of the norm, that are a little weird or unexpected? That I loved Mexican food, cheap, run of the mill Mexican food with a low-rent nuclear green frozen margaritas? That I like to binge watch The BlackList or Yellowstone? Or will they remember me for some strange, introverted peculiarity? Will they look back as adults and wonder why I always wanted to go as far away from civilization as possible every time we had a chance to travel?
Or will they remember me for some strange failure? Might it be the failure to support them appropriately, sufficiently at some critical point in their lives? Will they feel like their lives would be so much better if only dad had done this or that at that critical moment? Or worse yet, might they remember me for some perceived success? Some perceived business or social success that was no more my doing than winning the lottery? Will that grain of success somehow get blown up into a story that is so much bigger than real life and somehow intimidate them in such a way that they feel like they can never live up to a caricature of my life. Could they be paralyzed by that fear of not living up to me?
Or will their memories be more graceful than that? Will they hopefully just remember that I loved them? As an imperfect person with real life flaws who was trying to do the best that he could? Maybe. Hopefully.
But then I began to wonder if that’s enough. Is it enough for them to remember that I loved them? It’s helpful, and they will certainly be better off, and in all probability spend a lot less money on therapy if they have a father that loves them. But is it enough?
My imperfect love is never enough. Only the love of God himself in the person of Jesus Christ is enough! I can’t provide the answer to the one thing needful. I can’t give them the one thing that is most important and most lasting in this life.
But I can point the way to the one who can. I can point the way to Jesus Christ and his saving work on the cross. He will provide the one thing we all need… to be perfectly known and perfectly loved, to be saved from our sins to live an eternal life in the presence of God Himself, who loves us more than we can ever know.
So, maybe George Harrison’s answer is right. Maybe we shouldn’t want to be so much remembered as ourselves as to be remembered as pointing the way to our one true Savior, Christ Jesus.