“How do you want to be remembered?”

Posted: March 8, 2013 in jail

I had never been asked that question before. I had never given it any thought at all. Ever.

I just figured you lived your life, did the best that you could and hoped people would think kindly of you if and when they thought of you.

I know my memories of people whom I had lost along the way became softer and kinder as time went by. Even the ones I didn’t care for no longer held my heart and mind hostage. I chose to remember the good about them, even if it was a stretch.

And some people can be a challenge to find anything good about them.

I took my glasses off and looked down at David. His question had stopped me dead in my tracks.

I rubbed the bridge of my nose and closed my eyes.

His question deserved an answer, which I didn’t have.

“I guess I want people to think kindly of me. Maybe as someone who made a positive difference in their lives in some small way,” I said. That was all I could think of.

“Well, no one is going to think well of me. That’s for sure,” he said.

I liked working with this group of men but sometimes it got intense and I would feel that I was walking on thin ice. So much potential meaning behind simple words.

It was easy to stumble and fall.

“How so?” I asked. Might as well cut to the chase. Something was brewing with him.

“You gonna start your pussy whining again?” asked Fernando. “Let it go, will ya? We’re all sick and tired of hearing about it.”

I raised my hand and gave Fernando a stern look. “Watch your language,” I snapped.

He looked away and leaned back in his chair. “Sorry ma’am. It won’t happen again,”

“This is a valid question,” I said. “Where you going with this David?”

“I’ve done a lot of bad stuff in my life and..”

“Stop right there. I don’t want to hear it,” I said.

David was incarcerated for at least 25 years for manslaughter. He had a long way to go before getting released.

“But what I did…”

“Seriously David, I don’t want to hear it. I want to know what you are going to do today and maybe tomorrow. How are you going to make things better around here?”

My question startled him.

Like so many people, he kept dwelling on the past and wouldn’t budge. Maybe because the present was a bad place to be and the future wasn’t looking much better.

“I don’t know.”

“Then figure it out and tell me next week. Until then, stop being such an Eeyore.”

This made him and the others laugh.

But his question resonated with me for a long time.

It still does today.

I finally decided that all I wanted on my death-bed was the knowledge that I mattered. That I had made a difference and that the world was a better place because I had lived.

How will you be remembered?

If you don’t like the answer to that question, then change now.

It’s never too late to make a new beginning.

  1. curious212000 says:

    Hello, This is a thought provoking Question and I can relate to it and your Q.E.D. is good. David.

  2. Beautiful post, Susan. I think each of us hopes to have a positive effect on others that will be remembered loft after we’re gone. I sometimes think the fallacy is that we think the actions to get us there need to be huge, when in reality it’s often the little things that touch people the most.

    • Susan Lewis says:

      Thank you Paulissa.

      You and I know with the work we do, how important we are to other people and how many depend on us.

      As difficult as that can be at times, we thrive on it, don’t we?