I imagine we’ve all attended funerals, or memorials, or celebrations of life.  It’s a chance to say goodbye to someone, to be with others that you shared that person’s life with.  And if you’re in the Midwest, a chance to get some great pea-and-mayo salad and favorite desserts.

A funeral is a chance to share what that person meant to you, to share funny and poignant stories that you remember fondly from interactions with that person.  It’s the opportunity to say what that person meant to you, the lessons you learned from them, both in what they said, and how they lived.  It’s a time to think about the essence of that person, what their life meant to you and others, how important they were, the difference they made.

Here’s the thing though; it’s too late for the person that died.  They don’t get to hear everyone say how they impacted lives, made them better.  They don’t get to hear what people noticed, the memories and conversations and trips that they treasured.  They don’t get to see the tears streaming down your face, not because you’re sad necessarily, but because you’re so grateful for what that person meant for you; how you are different, your life is better, because of them.

My mother, Claire Bateman, had decided that her 85th birthday was going to be her last big party.  She had been hosting great gatherings for the ‘Big Birthdays’, 70, 80, etc.  Due to declining eyesight for several reasons, she decided the 85th was going to be her last.  So the guest list was long, and the party was long.  There were both public and private opportunities for everyone to say what Claire meant to them, to talk about the difference she had made in their lives, and sometimes in the lives of their children and grandchildren.  It was a chance to say goodbye while she was still there to hear it and treasure it for her remaining days.

On April 16, I had a Virtual Launch Party for my first booktake less. do more. Surprising Life Lessons on Generosity, Gratitude and Curiosity from an Ultralight Backpacker.  It was a great celebration, attended by scores of people from so many parts of my life.  There was family, of course, both close, distant, and ‘adopted’.  There was my high school French teacher, a dear friend over all these years.  There was a buddy that I rode across the country with on bicycles in 1976.  There was my old girlfriend before I married Francie 42 years ago, who has remained a good friend.  There was the friend who runs Quest Outfitters who sold me fabric to make a pack almost 30 years ago that ended up turning into Gossamer Gear.  There were neighbors, and hikers, and even some friends I haven’t met yet!

It was too big a gathering for everyone to speak, and I was too busy in the moment to follow all the chat entries.  But I’ve been going through the saved chat thread, and enjoying the connections from people.  People loved hearing from the guests who spoke; Francie supporting me in yet another crazy adventure, our youngest son Grant moving people to tears with his talk of pride in his Dad (delivered with a large sewing machine in the background at his workshop), our eldest son Brian’s creative and heartfelt toast of the book.  If you missed it, you can see the recording here. It was somewhat like attending my own funeral, but I got to hear everything!

It reminded me I need to do a better job of telling people what they mean to me now, while I have the chance, because many of us have had reminders that there’s no guarantee of tomorrow.  It’s hard in our hustle-bustle lives to make time for this, and it’s easy to put it off until later.  Writing letters is one great way to do this, but not a complete substitute for in-person connection.  To effectively connect and share, we need to create margin in our lives, margin of time and energy, by not scheduling every last minute, by not saying ‘Yes’ to everything (I’m guilty of doing this too often, actually of scheduling too much also…), so that we have the energy to notice, and the time to connect, and the words to tell someone what they mean to us.  So don’t wait for their funeral, go tell someone this week how important they are to you!  

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  1. That was spot on Glen! I texted FVP earlier today about similar conversations I didn’t want to miss out having in life with people who lives crossed with mine. You summed it up much more eloquently.
    Cheers to you for sharing such great wisdom!
    Franci K

  2. Hi Glen, I have been one of your pre-readers on the launch team through Weaving Influence. Had to miss the online party due to work, so sad! I will watch the video. Just want to say, I loved the book, the pictures in it, the heartfelt sentiment from you to the reader that permeates every page. My son is a hiker and I’m excited about him reading the book soon. You have a great message and it needs to circulate. Thank you for your heart, your appreciation, and for all you do! My review is up on Amazon and I hope many will read it!

    1. Nancy, thanks for your review and your kind comments! I hope your son enjoys the book also. If you want a bookplate inscribed to him, just get ahold of me, would be happy to mail one to you.

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