Long Gone & Forgotten

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones.”

– Sharon L. Alder, American best-selling author

“I can’t read the name,” said Barry, running his hand across the sandstone surface.

“I can’t either,” I replied. The gravestone was too weathered to make out the letters.

While exploring an old farmstead, my buddy Barry and I happened upon the grave. A neighbour was clearing the land, and we thought we’d explore the site before it got bulldozed into brush piles. It was the mid-70s, and we were two curious kids in our mid-teens.

The gravestone consisted of a rectangular centre stone with an arched top and two smaller stones that formed shoulders on either side. The centre stone had fallen forward slightly, and I got the impression an amateur mason had crudely carved it.

“We should tell someone,” I said, standing up. “We don’t want the grave bulldozed.”

Barry agreed, and we headed home on our bikes to consult with my father.     

Reflecting on the old grave, I still wonder about the person buried there. Who was he? Was he a good person? Did he have family or friends? Someone who cared about him? Someone to remember him?

As I grow older, I think more about the legacy I would like to leave. When I was younger, I was merely existing—my life lacked purpose and direction. As I began to work on my self-esteem, I began to feel worthy of a life that stood for something.

Here, I’m speaking of a legacy that others look upon with admiration and respect – a contribution to the greater good. A legacy evolves from a life of passion and purpose – from a willingness to celebrate and embrace our natural gifts. Our legacy won’t necessarily change the world, but perhaps it will leave a positive imprint in the hearts and minds of others.

If you’d like to leave a legacy, here are a few things to consider.

Decide what’s important to you. For me, as I move through this journey, I want to learn, grow and evolve. I want to help others make powerful and positive changes. I want to live a joy-filled and purposeful life that positively influences others. I want to live my values and role-model them every day. What’s important to you? How do you want to be remembered?

Count your blessings every day and express your gratitude. Say, thank you. It’s too easy to focus on what you don’t have or what’s wrong with your life, but an attitude of gratitude can bring you abundance. And I’m not referring strictly to financial abundance – I’m speaking of joy and happiness that you can share openly with the world. We all have blessings we can share. A simple smile or a sincere “thank you” can turn someone’s world around.

Reflect and rediscover your passion, then pursue it! Perhaps you’ve never really discovered your passion, or maybe you have lost your passion somewhere along the way. When pursuing something that lights a fire in your belly, life is a lot more fun. Someone told me once that finding and pursuing your passion allows you to see your destiny. I think that’s true.  

Father said that he had heard a story once about an old bachelor who lived and died in the quarter nearby. Perhaps it was his grave we had discovered. He suggested we speak to the neighbour and maybe show him what we had found. When we approached him, he scoffed at us. Later that day, he brushed the old farm site, and the grave was gone forever.  

On the topic of leaving a legacy, American science-fiction author Ray Bradbury once said, “It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.”

I hope the unknown gentleman did something in his life that made a difference to someone. I know the discovery of his grave made an imprint on my heart and mind – a desire to make a difference before I’m gone and forgotten.

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