Remembering the best

The little plate that I take out every year. A treasured gift from a friend
The little glass plate that I take out every year at Christmas: a treasured gift from a friend

“Everything is determined by forces over which we have no control. 

It is determined for the insect as well as for the star. 

Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust

– we all dance to a mysterious tune,

intoned in the distance by an invisible piper“.

Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

This words above were read at the funeral of a friend, Jim Bailey, last Saturday. His son Ian had gotten the call to come home, and as he waited on Christmas Eve in the Denver airport, for his flight back to northern Vermont to say goodbye to his father, he looked up, and written on a succession of rafters, this quote revealed itself; one line at a time. He said that he had never noticed it before. I had never heard this quote either.

I hadn’t seen Ian since he was a senior in high school, 15 years ago. He was a kid. I can’t remember a word he said back then.

On Saturday, I sat listening to a man speak about his father; about making the most of this life, about the passage of time, about the uncertainly of life, and as he spoke, I saw Jim in him; funny, bright, caring, full of life, and love. Jim must have been so proud of the man Ian has become…is becoming….life unfolding, growing, expanding outward.

I stayed with friends on Friday evening, and at dinner that night, we talked about Jim and also about death. A question that came up was, “If it was you who had passed, and your friends were gathered here talking about you, what is the one thing that you would want to hear them saying; what do you want to be remembered for?”

What I most remember about Jim Bailey is his smile and his kindness to everyone. At Christmas one year, he gave me a hand-blown glass plate that I adored. It is still one of my favorite Christmas decorations to unwrap and put out. It always reminds me of him. When the email came, saying that he had passed away on Christmas day, I was overwhelmed with emotion, and with the sense of mystery that there is an unseen pattern/order to life.

What do I hope will be said of me when I am no longer here? I love that question. I want to be remembered as someone who made a positive difference in this world. What about you? I invite you to answer this question here on the blog if you would like to.

Dr. James T. Bailey, June 28,1928- Dec.25, 2013
Dr. James T. Bailey,
June 28, 1928- December.25, 2013

24 thoughts on “Remembering the best”

  1. I’m sorry for your loss ….. I’d like to be remembered as not taking myself or this life too seriously ,as loving and crazy and fun ….0h yes…..and that I was a great recycler !!!!!

  2. Beautiful post Mary…he even looks like a very lovely man…it’s the eyes I think and that wonderful smile. The quote I have to copy out…I have never heard it either. I guess I would like to be remembered as being a person who turned their life around to the good and lived in grace and was kind. I just love that plate..glad you have a reminder!!!

  3. What a beautiful gift from a beautiful man! It seems that over and over again, I keep hearing, in everything I read……just LET GO! Do you think somebodys trying to tell me something! 🙂

  4. Such a beautiful story…I’ve found that God will lead us to the right words…and often in the unlikeliest places. My heart goes out to Ian as losing a parent can leave a great and strange silence, no matter their age. When it is my time, I hope those I love will say that if someone was missing their smile, I gave them mine.

  5. What an absolutely beautiful post and tribute to your friend!
    This quote by Einstein , I’d also never heard before. It does touch on the wonderful mystery of life, the broad possibilities and the wisdom of letting it unfold .
    My husband, Wm’s fervent hope was to leave something beautiful behind: his very moving fine art photography : platinum , (yes the actual metal) prints which are the most archival and stable images that can be made. (It took incredible courage for him to fulfill his mission. ). Each print is like a letter to the appreciative viewer. As for me, I hope it is said that I tried my best to be broad minded, ethical, talented and a loyal friend…. And then , after striving through my life’s course, I will gladly be borne away to join that ” invisible piper”.

  6. That is a very beautiful quote! I want to be remembered as a kind and loving person who would try to help anyone that was in need. I feel like we are put here to make a difference in other people’s lives. My great passion in life is to animals. They are innocent and at the mercy of people.

  7. A beautiful tribute to a man who still had a great smile as an octogenarian! I would like to be known for kindness, as someone who gave practical help in a spirit of compassion. I tend to focus on my own pettiness and selfishness sometimes, and think ill of myself, and am often surprised at how others will contradict this self-image. 😀

  8. Perhaps when we grieve the loss of a loved one, the depth of our loss is in equal measure to the myriad and wonderful ways in which we were filled and enriched by that person’s presence in our lives. After all, you cannot lose what was not once a ‘gain’. What a beautiful smile on your dear friend’s face, Mary, reaching out to us all this morning. I cannot think of two greater attributes to be remembered by, kindness and a smile. I would like to be remembered for those qualities as well. Love to the flock!

  9. Mary, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to attend Dr. Bailey’s funeral (I’ve been sick for a week, flu), but when I found out about his passing, I remember how he brought you and I together (as coworkers) at a time when I needed your spirit and your strength in my life dealing with my family issues. For that I am grateful to him and most definitely a higher spirit as well. It is always with joy that I remember Dr. Bailey bringing my two babies into this world and all of his other ladies whose children he delivered for many generations. I know they all remember him with love. He will always be remembered.

  10. I’m sorry to hear of your friends passing. I pray he “walks on” in peace.

    I want my friends, family & co-workers to remember my love, passion and easy smile. I so deeply love my family and friends, all humans and animals – I hope I reflected this in my life…

  11. Condolences Mary, I want to be remembered as a fun person who made people smile, made them laugh, brought a little joy to their lives whenever possible, lifted their spirits every time we met, That would be a true gift.

  12. Sounds like he was a wonderful man and a good friend. It’s hard to top that. I would hope to be remembered for my kindness and friendships. I am a work in progress.

  13. Mary, I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. The picture of him is so expressive….his openness and kindliness absolutely just presents itself without guile. How fortunate for you to be able to call him ‘friend.’

    When my time comes, I would hope that my compassion for the human condition will be the point of conversation and rememberance of me. Support for my friends and acquaintances is something I KNOW I do well.

  14. “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” ~Thomas Campbell
    We may lose the person, but we will never lose the way they made us feel.
    I hope I’ll be remembered as having moved through life joyously, peacefully and with gratitude and as having made the world a little brighter for everyone who came across my path. And Susan, aren’t we ALL a work in progress … and a grand work for sure in our own uniqueness!

  15. Mary, a agentle tribute to what looks to be a gentle man. And the quote is wonderful, filled with visual images. And what might be said about me: “she made quilts”.
    Sandy P in Canada

  16. How will I be remembered?
    Or, more importantly, why.
    If we’re really all connected
    Then presumably I didn’t quite die.

    All the laughter and the sass
    The stubborn hands on hips.
    Pure delight in all things language
    Raucous puns, irreverent quips.

    My love of creatures everywhere
    A heart made heavy by hate.
    Family and friends aplenty
    Rich in measures beyond weight.

    So will I be remembered
    When the proverbial fat lady sings?
    By the time I make that journey
    I’ll be on to other things.

    [Having experienced a NDE decades ago, the transition looks appealing; at the very least, nothing to fear or dread. If this life is any indication, I won’t be able to sit still then either!] 🙂

  17. How can I possibly follow Cheryl b. I love the quote from Thomas Campbell, thank you Laurie. I hope people will remember me as being kind to all creatures with two and four legs. Thank you Mary for telling us about Dr. Bailey. It sounds like he was one great father and doctor. Hugs to the flock.

  18. How fortunate Dr. Bailey’s son Ian was able to discern the message in those rafters, and so fortunate are we to have the advantage of this wonderful message, Mary.
    I recently saw a photograph of Earth front he vantage point of the outer rings of Saturn. Earth, a tiny, faint dot in the darkness of Space… I do believe we do have a say in how we live our precious and magnificent lives, though we may not understand it’s meaning, it is not for us to judge, it is for us to do the best we can with what we have at any particular point in time.
    I rescued a wooly caterpillar from drowning today. I felt it’s body curling under my fingers as I carried it to the safety of the woods and I thought of that photograph. A view from deep space, seemingly insignificant, but yet so dear. Yes, we are all powerless in what ever it is that we have been given. Human or wooly bear caterpillar, all dancing to a mysterious tune.

    1. Lynne, I love your perspective from macro to micro and am touched by your rescue of the catterpillar and its value. Thank you.

  19. I love Cheryl B’s poem — so much truth. I want to be remembered as someone who lived a compassionate life. But the reality is that ‘being remembered’ is not a constant, and if I have passed on the ‘compassionate trait’ to my son, that will be the best legacy of all.

  20. What a lovely poem and Myrna is right – what more can I say? But how interestingly the universe works because my husband and I had this same conversation at Christmas time! And my immediate response was “that I was kind.” I would add to that “compassionate”.
    I love this blog and have never commented on it before but each time it “hits the nail on the head” for me. Thank you for sharing!
    Pat Reid

  21. That I appreciated nature, loved music, loved to sing,had a terrific sense of humor even in tough times, but most all to smile and wait for a person to return the smile. Sandy M.

  22. Mary, what a beautiful tribute to your friend. I work in a Children’s Hospital and the mission statement is, “When your child needs a hospital everything matters”. I hope that when I die that I will be remembered for living that statement -everything matters.

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