The local newspaper is delivered to me 4x each week. When I get it, I read it all. That includes the obituaries. The thing is, I am new to this town so it’s not like back home where every other day someone I know or am related to is dying or dead (or being born or getting married…)
So, this obituary was two columns wide and really long. Lots of words. A photo of a very pretty lady. The words were very poetic and magical. I think they were her words. She talked about the family grocery, then a paragraph was devoted to her ‘beloved’ father, her steps that took her to the nunnery until that didn’t feel right anymore. Then her quest next led to graduate school… The next quarter of a century she conducted basic research in neuroscience and eventually retired as Professor Emerita. She started her own business, spoke, wrote, published books and so much more.
I did not know this woman but I wish I had. She lived a colorful life and in the end requested the following: In lieu of flowers, and in recognition of the generativity which coursed through her life, the family requests that those wishing to honor her pay kindness forward to three other individuals.
Why I read this, why it touched a cord, why I kept it, the article, why I had to write about it? Even in death, this woman is giving to others by asking us to reach out and pay something forward as a gift to her. If only a handful of her family or “groundswell of devoted friends” as the obituary read reached out and paid a kindness forward then her essence lives on. And if each person paid it forward THREE times then the world would be a bit easier for someone, for no real reason.
She’s gone, right? And yet she created a web of web of giving. That she can do that in her death makes me wonder what crusades and undertakings she accomplished prior to departing.
I know we all have our own stories and nobody really knows the story of the person next to them – but if there were some way to know more – count me in.
So, what is it I don’t know about you? What is the event, illness, struggle, joy, friendship or woe that got you to this very place in time? For many, it was the turning point in our lives. For others it might be a goal that was reached and lessons learned along the way. This beautiful, wonderful woman had TONS of stories – and this is just one more.
generativity (google dictionary) In Erik Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development, generativity is a struggle against stagnation that ascends during adulthood.
in the psychosocial sense refers to the concern for establishing and guiding the next generation and is said to stem from a sense of optimism about humanity.