Saturday, September 6, 2014

“When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there. ” ― Jim Henson

The other day I received an anonymous comment to the blog I wrote about my father and his relationship with some kind people in Dufee, Mississippi, back in the 30’s.  The comment didn’t say much, just that there is now a small, wooden sign near the back door of a small, African-American Baptist Church in a very small town in Mississippi, that says, “In Memory of Frank Wiggins.  A kind man.”  That’s all it says, but he would be pleased.  When Joan Rivers died, the world knew within minutes and millions mourned as they did when Robin Williams recently died.  Every day in the United States, over 6,000 people die some within moments of birth and some who lived to be over 100 years old.  The importance of life is not measured by its longevity, but by its quality.  Jim Henson (see above quote) did indeed leave the world a better place for his having been there.  My point is that there are among those 6,000 who die every day, thousands who had made the world a better place for their having been in it.  Only a few get the notice that celebrities do at their passing, but if wasn’t for those thousands the world little notes nor long remembers  (thanks Mr. Lincoln) the world would not be a place in which most of us would want to live.  I read on Facebook, at least weekly (I don’t have that many friends on Facebook so the numbers aren’t as big as for most of you) of the passing of a good person.  A good woman, a good man, people that not many knew but who improved the quality of the world for many more than they ever knew.  And again, it’s not the longevity—it’s the quality.  Recently, it was the anniversary of the passing of a sixteen-year-old boy that I knew.  I’ll never forget it because I held his hand and his mother’s hand as they turned off the machines that were keeping his body alive long after his brain had died.  He is also remembered in that little town where he lived and the scholarship that was established in his name and the work his mother had done for the youth of that town has changed it forever.  He was also a kind young man.  While the world may little note nor long remember our humble lives, we generally have no idea of the impact our lives have had on others.  Most of us would blush and be speechless to hear and know of the kind of esteem in which many others hold us.  My wife still hears, fifty years later from children she taught when they were just five years old and tell her she was their favorite teacher.  I guess we would all profit from having a Clarence, Angel Second Class to show us what the world would have been without us in it (this is a reference to the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” and if you haven’t seen it—you must).  It’s probably better that we don’t because too much praise seems to go to our heads.  If someone were to ask what I would like to have people remember about me, I would answer that I would hope they would remember me as a good husband, a good father, a good friend, and a kind man.  I would add “a good Christian” but that is not something for humans to judge.  That’s in the hands of God.  What I would most like to hear from God on my passing into His Kingdom, is “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  Of the more than 150,000 deaths that occur every day world-wide, I think we would be surprised to find out how many hear those words from God.  My hope is that the world will be a better place for my having been here, I pray that you, too, share that hope.  In the meantime, remember these words from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” 
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