Monday, May 16, 2011


Have you ever visited a cemetery for the sole purpose of reading the tombstones?

You can tell a lot about a person by his or her tombstone. Jim Denison tells about one of his favorites in a recent blog. He read an inscription on a tombstone while he was visiting in New England which said, “I told you I was sick, Elizabeth.” Above a grave in Burlington, Vermont reads these words: “She lived with her husband for fifty years and died in the confident hope of a better life.” Another reads: “Here lies an atheist; all dressed up with no place to go.” And yet another one from Springdale, Ohio reads: “Here lies Jane Smith, wife of Thomas Smith, marble tomb stone cutter. This monument was erected by her husband as a tribute to her memory and as a specimen of his work. Monuments of the same style are $350. For more information call 515-5155”

Christine and I went to Italy for the first time in 2009. While we were there we made an attempt to look into my family heritage. We learned that the records of the town of Isle de Liri, where my grandfather was born and raised, were destroyed in a flood back in the late 1920’s. Since my grandfather and grandmother had come to the U.S. in 1906, their recorded information had been destroyed as well. The young man at the town hall office suggested that we visit the cemetery which was located high above the town in a remote but dry place. We found numerous tombstones bearing my family name. It was an experience which was both emotional and heartwarming.

Have you ever noticed that virtually all tombstones have the year of the person’s birth and the year of their death. Between those dates sits a dash which when you think about it, represents their time here on earth or in essence their life.

One thing we all have in common is the desire to have made an impact during our life. I don’t think anyone cares to leave this place without believing that they had made a difference. Some people are more intentional about that than others, but the fact remains that we all only have a rather short time to make our mark.

People living now have the benefit of modern medicine and as a result are living longer. I read a story recently about a centenarian who was asked about the benefits of living to be a hundred years old. She smiled and said, “There’s very little peer pressure.”

Regardless of your longevity, what’s your dash going to say about you?

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