As posted on Wednesday, I’ve recently attended a funeral. There were tears - tears from the family for the loss of their mother and grandmother and tears from friends of those who’d lost somebody they loved because they were hurting so much. It’s hard to see somebody you care about hurting like that and knowing that apart from offering a shoulder to cry on, there’s absolutely nothing you can do to ease their pain. But such is the nature of a funeral and the grieving process is important.
What I really want to write about though is something one of the family friends said at the wake. She’s a 90 year old Jamaican woman who I’ve also known since I was a teenager and who’s one of the wisest, wittiest ladies you could wish to meet; a real scream and even at her advanced age, she hasn’t changed one bit.
A group of us younger (!!) ones were stood in the garden when she came out to join us. At that point we were talking about the garden, which is terribly overgrown but with its old brick walls and some wonderful climbers and shrubs, could be turned into a real haven for both humans and wildlife. Leigh, the lovely old Jamaican, speaking to my friend Carol, who lives in the house with her Dad, said something along these lines:
“Don’t just stand there talking about it, do something about it. You come into this world with nothing so be prepared to leave with nothing. Make every day special and enjoy life while you have it because what you’re left with when you leave will mean nothing.”
Sure, somebody else might be able to use what we leave, but is that what life’s about? Gathering stuff and money to pass on to others? Or should we be getting the most out of the time we have on this planet, enjoying every day for what it’s worth? That doesn’t necessarily mean spending like a maniac, but if you want that garden and you have the money and resources to do it, then get it done! If you want that holiday in the Caribbean and you can afford it, then go. If you want to learn to knit then don’t just talk about it, get an instruction book, some wool and needles and start knitting! Do the things you want to do while you’re alive and well and able to do them.
I try to live by that philosophy myself and have done for most of my life but even more so since coming close to death myself. I realised just how quickly it can all be over and I’m damned if I’m going to just sit around waiting to do things “some day in the future”.
If there’s anything left over when my time comes, then hopefully my children will put it to good use themselves, but I’m not planning on leaving anything. I have my life to live and if anybody happens to think that’s selfish then tough. I’ve passed on my genes, for what they’re worth, I’ve fed them, clothed them, taught them and nurtured them - the rest is for me to enjoy in whatever way I see fit.
You do indeed come into the world with nothing and no matter what you do, you can’t take a damned thing with you when you leave.