Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's How you Lived

“It’s Not Who you Knew, and It’s Not What you Did …

It’s how you lived.” These words come from a song made popular by a Ouachita-born singing group, Point of Grace. There’s so much truth here. Only a few of us will ever invent something so valuable that our name is remembered. Some will be associated with a famous person, a smattering will have more than our own fifteen minute share of fame. So, how will we be remembered?

My husband’s father would not be considered famous by any stretch of the definition of that word. But, well known, well respected, well thought of? Of course. How does a person with a seemingly ordinary life accomplish this? It’s how you live.

As a young man, he established a reputation. He was the tall, smiling one with a full head of hair and James-Deanish good looks. His friends and younger relatives knew he was always up for an adventure, willing to do anything to help someone else. Not reckless, just fearless. If it needed doing, R.V. would do it.

In his work life, this tendency grew. As a timber worker, he was one of the biggest, strongest, and hardest working men any employer could hope for. Foul weather, injuries, lack of food or water, no worries. He just kept going till the job was finished.

During his career as a delivery truck driver, he became known for taking what was needed from one point to the other with no complaints. He was the one who could get the truck into and out of impossible spots, up roads that couldn’t even really be called that. His customers were glad to see him coming, and often rewarded him with home baked treats and friendly conversation. On longer trips, his wife accompanied him, making sure he followed all the rules of the road. Once more, no complaints. He truly enjoyed her company.

His family and friends know all of this, because he loved to talk about it. His stories included minute details that most of us would discard as un-important. To R.V., every measurement, ever price he paid, every date and time was part of the rich fabric of his life. No event was too small to make a good tale.

Sixty years of steady companionship with the love of his life created a pattern that all who knew them still strive to follow. They made it look easy, and paraphrasing a verse from the book of Romans (12:10) they were kindly affectioned , and honorably preferred each other.

His children and grandchildren looked up (literally) to him as a firm, reliable example of a Christian father. He never criticized, but often richly praised their accomplishments. For concerts, contests and award ceremonies, he was in the front row, with a huge, proud smile. “That’s my boy (or girl)” was written all over his face, displayed on his wall and even on the bumper of his truck. He was the first one they called with good news, because they knew he’d love hearing it.

As a member of the community and leader at his Church, he could be depended on for whatever was required. During the construction of his congregation’s new building, the members purchased a set of tires for his truck. He had literally burned up the road going back and forth to bring the necessary supplies. His caring attention to detail shows in the fine facility they still call home.

Some men have a hard time communicating. On the contrary, R.V. loved to talk, and loved to listen. He wanted to be up to date on the happenings in your life, and shared every detail of his. We expected to talk to him every day, and more than once on football game days. His “How bout them Hawgs (or Hornets)” phone calls are legendary in our family.

So, when the last chapter of your story is written, how will others remember you? That dash between beginning and end dates on your headstone will tell it all. It’s how you lived.

Dedicated with love to R.V. Carlisle 10-29-1925 to 10-04-2009.

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