My Eastern Orthodox friends have a strange thing that they say when a loved one dies. May his memory be eternal. This made little or no sense the first few times I heard it, but seems to make a little more sense with passing time. While I would not presume to attempt to explain something that makes sense to the Orthodox, it seems to refer to one’s life having lasting import.
A few days ago, a friend and colleague reported in his blog that a loved relative had recently died, and he recalled time spent with her. In that way, her memory becomes eternal, because it has lasting impact on the life of someone who, in turn, has had a lasting impact on the life of others.
It seems that, when someone dies, the only comfort to be had is that their memory is lasting. The saddest thing is when someone passes, and nobody marks that passing. This is true tragedy. There is a tiny graveyard on the west side of Nicholasville Road, just before Regency Center, that most residents of Lexington aren’t even aware of. In it are broken, mostly illegible grave markers. Nobody seems to know who these people are, or what their stories were.
I think that one of my major motivating factors in many of the things that I do is that my memory be eternal. I’m still trying to decide if this is self-seeking or not. I want to do things that have lasting import. I think, sometimes, this is entirely about vanity, while other times it is about wanting to do things that matter, simply because they are important, and it feels good to be part of something that has lasting impact.
When my grandfather died, I was in a very wretched time of my life. In fact, I had been given divorce papers just days before Grandpere died. I was not able, at that time, to mourn his passing. It was nearly a year later when I was thinking about him, and wept at the enormous loss. And now it has been nearly two years.
My grandfather’s memory will indeed be eternal. The people he touched, and who benefited from knowing him, are countless. He wrote more letters in a year than most of us will write in our life time. Heck, he wrote more letters in a month than most of us will write in our life time.
And, in ways that I notice all the time, Grandpere is part of who I am. I notice tiny manerisms that I have, from time to time, that remind me of him. And other not-so-tiny things that I see in myself, and my father, and my brother.
Grandpere, I miss you, and your memory is eternal.