How Do You Want To Be Remembered?
Many years ago, when I was 19 or 20 and had been living in Denver, I made a serendipitous decision to move to Los Angeles to see what worldly adventures awaited me there. I immediately began to make my travel plans and said my goodbyes to family and friends. Without much forethought about weather, I set off in my trusty red Ford Falcon.
Everything was going smoothly on the drive for the first hour or so and then a horrendous snowstorm moved in rapidly. I decided to keep on driving and the snow became heavier and heavier. I noticed there were fewer cars on the highway and no snow plows had come by. I figured I had no choice but to continue until I came to a town or highway truck stop.
So, I drove what turned out to be deeper into a huge snow storm. After a while it became difficult to see where the road was. I did my best to stay down the center of what I felt was the road. My little red Falcon was creeping along through the storm and light was fading quickly — and then finally it was dark. Visibility was only what I could see right in front of the car. Then my little red Falcon began to stutter and falter in what was her usually smooth engine sounds.
Oh no! What will I do now? There did not seem to be time or place, just this feeling of being in some sort of bubble, too intense to become fearful while staring ahead at whatever I could make out and go in that direction. Then blessing upon blessing, I could see a faint light somewhere ahead and I navigated the car as best I could to reach that light.
After some time I came upon a gas station, but it was closed. The light was from a floodlight overlooking the station. I sat for a moment trying to get my thoughts in order when an elderly man knocked on my window. I rolled the window down and he said “Can I help you?”
I said, “there’s something wrong with my car.” He told me to get out of the car and come into the house, which it turned out was right behind the station. There I was greeted by his wife, both asked me what in the bloody blue blazes was I doing out on a night like that? I told them what happened as I finally let go and tears rolled down my cheeks. I remember they said nothing, and both simply nodded their heads.
I don’t remember their names, I don’t even remember what they looked like or where this gas station was, but these two big-hearted and caring people took me in for the night and the next day the older gentleman told me my distributor cap was cracked and he had gone ahead and put a new one on for me.
I am sharing this story because this act of kindness and compassion from two strangers has never left me.
I will always remember their gift to me even though I don’t exactly remember them.
What this brings to mind for me is, how do I want to be remembered? This is something that perhaps all of us could ponder, because our very presence in action, attitude, caring — how we treat one another has the potential to leave us with either an indelible scar or a beautiful memory. Perhaps it’s a good choice to make all our encounters with others as much a beautiful memory as possible.