I remember well one particular college professor of mine, not really because of all the business principles he taught us. He actually let us take exams with our books open! That was fun. I do remember creating two enormous business plans in his class. I could probably do that again. It was an exercise that took weeks but, at the end I was able to look at that thick document and see something I had accomplished…meaningful, relevant and practical.
What is indelibly etched on my mind is the first day of his Business 101 class. After all the introductions and overview of the course and a few choice words, he told us to take out paper and pen and write our obituaries. What? Did I hear him correctly? I was very much alive. Nothing of that nature had ever crossed my mind.
He then said, “What do you want people to say about you when you are gone?” Now that was something worth meditating about, but I only had 40 minutes to accomplish this first assignment. I began to write…then I wadded up the paper and began again. This was no easy task, at least not for me. Everyone else seemed to be writing frantically.
What had I done in my short life? Who was I? How do people perceive me? They would most likely be the ones writing the real obit when the time came. Well, I stumbled through those remaining 30 minutes, writing and erasing, writing and scratching out. My life had been ever so eventful, but I had never really stopped to think about it all.
I wanted to erase all the wrong choices, but I could not. I wanted to deny all the unplanned sadness, but I could not. Had I made a good impression on anyone? Had I simply wandered through life, taking each day as it came, not realizing that every precious year is made up of days? Today I was forced to stop and think about it all and I only had a short time left in which to create an “A” paper.
I reminisced about my many years as a teacher of children and wondered if I had made a real difference in any of their lives. I thought back to all the Sunday school classes I had taught, the Bible classes, the children’s vacation Bible schools. I dreamed of my years in the country of Mexico doing missionary work. Did I do anything there worth writing about? I thought of my own six children. What were their memories of their mom? Did she make life fun for them? How did she handle the good days and the bad? Was her love enough to make them feel valued and treasured?
I guess this was the hardest assignment I had ever had. I was still writing when the bell rang. Time’s up! Just like it will be one day. Time will be up for all of us. There will be no more time to sit and think and write and erase and accomplish.
That professor is gone now. His real obituary has been written. It was quite impressive and I have forgotten most of the facts. I have, however, not forgotten him nor that first assignment. I’m still writing….