How Do You Wish to Be Remembered?

The wind was chilly and the rain brisk as we stood on the hilltop with view that stretched for miles. Ellyn and I were attending the funeral of the father of a good friend of ours.

I had only briefly met the father, but the memories shared about his life made me wish I had known him. I did know him indirectly through his daughter – our friend.

The qualities she embodies reflect the psychological inheritance from her father- being responsible without relinquishing humor and fun, responding to the needs of the community around her, being an involved mother without undue intrusiveness, responding to her own desire to grow professionally, and being, as far as I know, a loving wife.

A poem by Georgia Harkness was read in honor of our friend's father. Everyone who knew him agreed that it seemed to capture the essence of his life. As the rain and wind buffeted us on the outside, this poem touched our hearts. I would be blessed if I could leave this kind of legacy.

A Giant Pine

A giant pine, magnificent and old,
Stood staunch against the sky and all around
Shed beauty, grace and power. Within its fold
Birds safely reared their young. The velvet ground
Beneath was gentle, and the cooling shade
Gave cheer to pasers-by. Its towering arms
A landmark stood, erect and unafraid,
As if to say, “Fear naught from life's alarms.”

It fell one day. Where it had dauntless stood
Was loneliness and void now. But those who passed
Paid tribute and said, “To have known this tree in life was good,
It left its mark on me. Its work stands fast.”
And so it lives. Such life no bonds can hold–
This giant pine, so magnificent and bold.

It made me reflect about life after my bones have turned to
dust. What kind of legacy would you like for yourself? Strong
relationships are part of a legacy of love and respect. Ellyn
and I continue to support your efforts to build healthy
relationships.

Until next month,
Dr. Peter Pearson

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© Copyright MMIV The Couples Institute

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Jess
Jess

I read this poem at my dads funeral in 2020, he passed very unexpectedly, 2 days into UK lockdown, of a hear attack. It resonated so deeply for me. I wanted to get a tattoo that was a visual representation of the reading, but took years because it had to be perfect in design. I got it this Feb (2024) and I cried as it was so perfect

Dr. Ellyn Bader

Dr. Ellyn Bader is Co-Founder & Director of The Couples Institute and creator of The Developmental Model of Couples Therapy. Ellyn is widely recognized as an expert in couples therapy, and since 2006 she has led innovative online training programs for therapists. Professionals from around the world connect with her through internet, conference calls and blog discussions to study couples therapy. Ellyn’s first book, "In Quest of the Mythical Mate," won the Clark Vincent Award by the California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists for its outstanding contribution to the field of marital therapy and is now in its 18th printing. She has been featured on over 50 radio and television programs including "The Today Show" and "CBS Early Morning News," and she has been quoted in many publications including "The New York Times," "The Oprah Magazine" and "Cosmopolitan."

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