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Talking It Over: Unfinished lives

Katie Erdman

MORRIS -- I often wonder at what point do we consider our lives complete. Is it at the time of our death, when we reach a specific milestone or when we feel we have nothing left to offer? Any one of these could be considered an ending point in life but in my opinion, a person's life really doesn't end when they die or even when they consider themselves no longer needed.

When I think about the people who have affected my life, the list goes on forever. Even if those people are no longer here with me, what they taught me, things we did together, and memories made, go on forever.

They continue to teach me things even after they are gone and I continue to pass along what I learned from them to another generation.

I remember my grandma Kate quite well. She lived to be nearly 100 years old and as the nursery rhyme says, had so many children she didn't know what to do. In her case I would have to make that grandchildren because she had a lot of them. However, grandma Kate always had time for each of us and loved to teach us little things every chance she had.

Late in her life, when some people might think they are no longer useful or of importance, my grandmother continued to teach. I would visit her at the nursing home and she would recite the 23rd Psalm along with other Bible passages from memory. The unique thing about it was that she would first recite it in Dutch and then in English. Her recitation was almost like a song, it was so beautiful to listen to and I think of it often, especially when I hear some of those passages.

Other people throughout my life have taught me things that I carry with me constantly and hold very dear. In turn, I try to pass on those lessons to my children, grandchildren and even to friends and other acquaintances. In this small way, the life of the person who taught it to me, is continuing and growing.

I also like to add a few new lessons unique only to me and to the person I am with. I try to create things that can be passed on for generations and build relationships that will extend beyond my lifetime. I hope that just a few of the things I say and do will live on in the memories of others.

Even though our physical being might cease to exist at some point, our emotional and mental personas can live on. They live on in the memories of our loved ones, they live on in the things we have created and they live on in the lessons we have taught. It is nice to think that when our time comes to leave this world, our footprint will remain forever. Never to be erased or substituted and forever left as part of a life unfinished.