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Passing on

How do you best remember someone who has died?

I attended the memorial service of a friend yesterday whose father had died. It was a simple affair, very tasteful and respectful of his life, and it got me to thinking about how we keep in our memories someone who has died. My friend used birds of paradise flowers as a tribute to her dad, and it was appropriate given some of his expressions and how he thought about life. It was a good physicial representation of him. Whenever I see those flowers going forward I will think of her dad.

My favourite uncle died over a year ago and I gave the eulogy, a tribute to his life. He was a farmer, business man and local politician in Quebec with a great sense of humour who worked the land right up to his year of death. He was a family man and left a widow, two children and two grandchildren. I wonder how they keep his memory alive in their minds. Whenever I think of him, I think of a story I told at his funeral about sheep in a pen, a hole in the fence, counting the number of sheep left and a math teacher. The story’s punch line was “I know math, maam, but you obviously don’t know sheep.” That always brings a smile to my face when I think of him and the memory of him is now forever intertwined with that story.

My father-in-law passed away in 2012. He was 94 years old and was married to my mother-in-law for 54 years. He left a widow, two children and five grandchildren. He never met my youngest daughter, his sixth grandchild. He was a joker, always ready to tell a funny story as if it actually happened to him and always ready to laugh at one of your jokes. He loved Reader’s Digest stories. He was amiable and easy to like. I think of him sometimes when something happens with our children. I wish he was there to share the experience, crack a joke about it, and to let the kids tell him some jokes to make him laugh. He also loved chocolate of any sort and was guaranteed to have a stash of it beside his chair. The kids knew whenever they came into their grandparents’ house to go see Popop and he would give them something sweet. The memory of him comes back to me whenever I see Reader’s Digest or whenever I see a stash of chocolate.

Memories of those who have died are poignant. Those thoughts make you feel close to that person again. I so appreciate it when objects, expressions or stories evoke memories of people I have loved. It brings them back to me for a moment or two.

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