Monday, August 22, 2011

Living the Dash

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend

He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end
He noted that first came her date of her birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years
For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not how much we own;
The cars, the house, the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?


The dash referred to in this poem is the punctuation mark on many tombstones or in text about an ancestor that separates the dates of birth and death (as in the photo below, Christina Crawford 1872-1954).  The person in that grave's complete life is represented by that single line (Dash) between the two.  
Have you imagined what those lives may have been like as you gazed upon the piece of granite or slab of concrete?  Just think how wonderful it would be to find a journal or diary of one of your ancestors that gave you a glimpse of what that life in the 'dash' was like.  Are you recording your time in the 'dash?'  Will your descendants gaze at your tombstone and wonder what life was like for you during that little dash?  

My suggestion to you is to grab a notebook or your laptop and start recording what is happening in your dash.  Imagine how valuable this may be to your grandchildren or great grandchildren.  With the popularity of scrapbooking and digital cameras, you are likely at least leaving a digital pictorial journal of your time here on Earth.  I find that now that I don't have to pay for developing pictures I can snap shots of my grandkids all day long and never get tired of looking at their expressions, marveling at their quick growth and comparing them to their parents' photos. 


Above is a short pictorial story of Christina Crawford's life between the dash on her tombstone.  First a young woman, then mother of many children, then the death of her husband of 56 years and father of her 13 children, and finally in the final years.

I've resolved to take one day a week and write a short tale of something from my life - early remembrances, mishaps, highlights and timelines of events, things that will, put together, tell a little of the life between my dash.

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