I got up a couple of Sunday mornings ago, took a look outside and saw a much nicer day than we had previously had. I had been worried that I’d lost a lot of what I had planted in the horrible storm(s) that hit my area, so I was glad to see that most (not all) had made it through. With that, and with a cup of coffee, I felt rejuvenated, so I sat down for some rare quiet time with only the Sunday paper for company.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun reading the obituaries with more frequency. Since I now only live about 7 miles from where I grew up, I’m still in touch with families from my childhood. For that reason, I check the obits to make sure there aren’t friends of my family (or, with more frequency, parents of my friends) listed. I gave the column my usual cursory glance and then prepared to turn to other sections of the paper. But something caught my eye, and I stopped to read it.

It was an obituary unlike most of those that are printed. First, it was really long. But secondly, and more importantly, it was actually written by the deceased. At first I cynically thought that a family member had attempted to be a little too creative by changing the grammatical person it was written in. But then I realized that that was not the case. It had truly been written by the deceased.

By the time I finished reading it, I had tears in my eyes for a man I had never known or heard of, but suddenly had great admiration for. Because if you can live your life in such a way that you are able to write what he wrote, you’ve lived a good life indeed. And if the people that are in your life can be written of with such love and gratitude, they too have lived the life we all should want to live.

I’m sorry for the family’s loss. But I’m not sorry that he chose to share his last thoughts with total strangers.

Because his words, written with all the honesty and truth that came as he approached the end of his time on earth, changed me. And who I want to be.