Live a Life that Matters

Late last summer, I wrote a blog entitled simply “Jim” in which I described the amazing experience of working with Jim, my friend’s Dad, to plan his own Celebration of Life. Or, his “going away party”, as he preferred to call it.

Jim died on February 23rd, 2017 with most of his children and grandchildren at his side.   The entire family impressed me during his last days with their incredible compassion and the diligence with which they kept him company and tried to anticipate and tend to his needs. He was a lucky man.

Together the family and I started to plan his going away party. Because Jim had had the courage to anticipate and discuss his own demise, we were able to proceed in the full knowledge that we were doing what he wanted us to do. We were on the right track.

On June 30th, the day of Jim’s service, the day dawned bright and beautiful after a long earlier period of rain. The venue was the Celebration Hall at Mountainview Cemetery, always a welcoming, peaceful place to remember and celebrate one that we have loved.

Jim’s service was wonderful, in large part because we were so confident that we were carrying out his wishes. But the most touching and remarkable part of that day was the depth, humour and eloquence with which his young adult grandchildren spoke about him.

Jim had always had tremendous respect for his children and grandchildren, and their life partners, and the many friends that travelled through the house. He appreciated all of them for their intelligence and independence. He saw each of them as individuals, with their own strengths and gifts to offer in life. He loved discussions – about politics, travel, world events, work and adventure – you name it. As with many people who age with grace, he was always outward looking; always interested in learning new things; always receptive to views other than his.

The tributes that his grandchildren offered reflected their own pursuits. One of them linked his love of history to his grandpa’s role in World War Two. Another linked Jim’s love of people to her passion for social responsibility and the creation of community. His consistently optimistic view of life was honoured in both words and a stunning video. Many, many fond memories were shared.

Jim was not a rich man, nor was he famous. But there is no question he left a priceless legacy to all of those who loved him. He showed his loved ones the importance of living a life that matters.

Funeral Celebrant Janis Horne – for Modern Celebrant


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