Last week the world lost one of it’s greatest poets and musicians, Leonard Cohen, and while his death brought sadness to those who loved and admired him it also created a wonderful conversation about how we’d like to be remembered.
Leonard’s son Adam penned a beautiful note about his father a few days after he passed and shared it on his Facebook page. It was clear from the way Adam wrote about him that he loved his father dearly and would miss his presence in his life.
“My sister and I just buried my father in Montreal. With only immediate family and a few lifelong friends present, he was lowered into the ground in an unadorned pine box, next to his mother and father. Exactly as he’d asked,” he wrote.
“As I write this I’m thinking of my father’s unique blend of self-deprecation and dignity, his approachable elegance, his charisma without audacity, his old-world gentlemanliness and the hand-forged tower of his work. There’s so much I wish I could thank him for, just one last time.
“I’d thank him for the comfort he always provided, for the wisdom he dispensed, for the marathon conversations, for his dazzling wit and humour. I’d thank him for giving me, and teaching me to love Montreal and Greece.
“And I’d thank him for music; first for his music which seduced me as a boy, then for his encouragement of my own music, and finally for the privilege of being able to make music with him. Thank you for your kind messages, for the outpouring of sympathy and for your love of my father.”
The note has been shared over 73 thousand times and has prompted people to think about how they’d like to be remembered.
So what will your family say about you after you’re gone and will you be proud of what you’ve left behind?
For many of us, family and friends are the most important thing in our lives and as we age this can become even more so. As we head into this new phase – retirement, grandkids, and more – life becomes simpler for many of us.
The things we value are less about material possessions and more about the people we have around us. Do they fill our hearts and make our days happier? Do they respect us and value our input? Are we there for them when they need us and can they turn to us for advice and guidance?
There are questions we have to ask of ourselves, too. Questions about character and generosity; about love and forgiveness, kindness and nurturing.
Then there’s the big one: have you left the world in a better place than you found it? Because surely this is how we will be judged.
Being kind to others, teaching our children to value love and respect others, trying to make a difference in the world – these are the things we will be remembered for.
But what about the not-so-flattering parts? Very few of us can claim to be perfect and those that do are usually far from it, so when we’re gone we have to wonder whether or not we’ll be okay with how people remember us.
If today was your last day how would people remember you and is it how you’d like to be remembered?