Thursday, July 9, 2009

Time Capsules - What will people remember of us?

"If I could save time in a bottle...." It's an old song that my dad played a lot one year, and I never really appreciated it. I've often seen time capsules different places and wondered why people would do something like that. I never appreciated or understood the significance.

In the past year, I have experienced a couple of time capsules of different varieties. The first was a museum in Vienna, and a room containing all of the artifacts related to the event that started the First World War. The car, the uniform, the guns, photos of the event and the assassins, and the conviction papers of the assassins that began the chain of events. I've never experience goose bumps in a museum before, but I did that day.

This past week, I traveled to Fort Worth to help my parents clean out my grandmother's house. My grandmother has been living in a nursing home in my parent's town for the past two years, and is still amazingly alert and vibrant at almost 96 years of age. She moved into her last house in Fort Worth about 45 years ago, and very little has moved in the house since my grandfather passed away 42 years ago. Things came into the house, she placed them somewhere important, and there they stayed until my trip into the house last week.

I have no memory of my Dad's father. He suffered from lung cancer and died when I was about 20 months old. I first found some books with his signature in them. I later found multiple copies of his obituary, which I had never seen. I then found a slip of paper in grandmother's handwriting bearing his final, terminal, diagnosis. The hospital billing, a copy of the check paying for his funeral expenses, and even his last wallet. It is like new, brown leather, still soft and uncracked. It has resided in a tight plastic bag for the past 42 years, still containing many of his personal items that he carried with him up until the time he died. Much of my life I have wondered about him. What was he like, what did he value, etc. Going thru the wallet gave me new insight, and the goose bumps returned yet again.

Other lessons from the time capsule? Stuff. We all have so much of it. What will become of it when we are gone? Much of grandmother, and grandfather's, stuff has come back to our house in Oklahoma, and some to my office. I have so many things stored in our attic. Will my kids be the ones to pull that stuff down and go thru it when I'm gone one day? When will that day be, and how will I be remembered? What will people, maybe my kids or grandkids, learn about me from what I leave behind?

A good man from our church had a stroke this morning. After a long day at work, my wife and I ran out to see his family, and hopefully him, at the hospital tonight. He died shortly after we arrived at the hospital, only a few minutes after I left his room with his son. He was a great man, had a servant heart, and will be remembered by many. A couple of moments after he died, one of his daughters stepped into the waiting room and said "He is in Heaven now". I know from what was said of him that he touched and influenced many lives who will be there with him. I hope to live in such a way that many can say that of me one day, and that some will share Heaven because I was able to touch their life for Christ in some meaningful way. May that be a legacy, more than what someone finds in my office, my wallet, or my attic some day.

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