Everyone’s life story holds that which lasts forever

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, March 7, 2007

You good folks never cease to amaze me with your wisdom and beautiful words. But I think you have outdone yourselves with your responses to last week’s column on the importance of eulogies and the shared stories of our lives.

“I loved your comparisons between a treasured book and a celebration of one's life,” Cochrane coffee companion Kate Millar wrote.

“What joy and comfort is received as we reopen the beloved covers and keep the story alive,” added Lindsie Haxton, also of Cochrane.

Yes, wrote Calgarian Sandy Corenblum. “The memories we carry of those we have lost build in us the re-affirmation that we must enjoy life in a fuller and larger way. We must laugh longer, sing louder and love harder. It is in the celebration of their lives that we grow, and not in the mourning of their passing.”

These sentiments are echoed by one of our longtime Edmonton coffee companions:

JUST THIS PAST WEEK, my husband and I were set to watch a program on television. The opening voice-over quoted one of the many profound teachings of Cicero.

“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.”

How true that is. Memories keep the essence and worth of the deceased alive. Being able to conjure up memories of a beloved and respected person is truly a blessing.

This column has made me realize even more how important it is to “live in the moment.” Sometimes I get caught up with daily routines and don't take time to appreciate today. Or I look ahead, wondering what the future holds for me. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, so it is better if I just enjoy today.

Thank you again, Warren, for yet another column that served as a reminder to live each day to the fullest – a reminder to tell family and friends that you love them.

—Barbara Stevens, Edmonton

I HAD NEVER thought of a buffalo’s breath as a metaphor for the brevity of life, but it didn’t escape the attention of a former Bow Valley resident:

YOU HAVE DONE IT again, Warren. You have painted a picture of life's wealth, its worthiness. It is the treasure of recognition for a job well done, and the value in one's legacy that is worthy of recognition and remembrance; all humanity deserves this. To not experience this, on either level of being here today or gone tomorrow, is truly the impoverishment of one's soul. Here, here!

Let's celebrate life for all it is worth, for it is as brief as the breath of a buffalo in an Alberta prairie windstorm. 

—Pamela Showler, Waterloo, Ont.

FINALLY, THIS NOTE from an octogenarian reader in Ontario drawing on the wisdom of a lifetime:

THE REMEMBRANCE of lives lived pierces my soul – as it must do for every thinking mortal – of the "little people" who walked through our lives and gave of themselves to us in a thousand touching ways: those who never wrote books, or gave great seminars, or invented medical gems to heal folk, or who gave their lives in battle through the centuries.

The lives lived whose memories will live forever are the simple gifts they gave: a Sunday school teacher who gave a recalcitrant youngster just the right push in the direction that changed his life;  the nurse who sat with a dying patient and gave her hope; the ordinary workman who, in the process of doing repairs to a house (to make it more habitable) fell and broke his back, yet had courage to go through all the surgical horrors so he could again go back to do the work he loved; the lady in a wheelchair for 30 years who writes stories and poems for children in hospital, and visits to cheer the little ones she will never have herself; the pharmacist who is always at the ready to advise when a patient is confused by too much information about medications; the 90-year-old lady who spends every Saturday cooking up huge batches of soup which her rector will then take to the homeless in a downtown "skid row" situation; and when the bottom line comes, the host of people who touch our lives in what seem little insignificant kindnesses.

There is in almost every person the potential for a life lived for others.

It is only in these last years since losing my husband and enduring annoying physical troubles that I have come to realize that every “book on my shelves” contains that which can last forever.

—Helen Hare, Oakville, Ont.

THANK YOU, coffee companions, for your inspiring words.

© 2007 Warren Harbeck

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