My former husband crossed the threshold of death yesterday morning. He was 86. I am full of many complex feelings. I married him two weeks after our first date. I was 24. He was 49. We had 18 years together, most very loving. Our two children are amazing human beings. Yet for most of the 18 years since our divorce, he has demonized me.

Over the last week, as my daughter was at his bedside, I gave my attention to his memorial and to memorials in general. How do we remember and acknowledge the expressions of a lifetime?

As human beings, we express ourselves through thoughts, feelings and deeds. Usually, one form of expression will dominate: there are thinkers, feelers, and doers.
In contemplating the life of an individual beyond memories and emotions, we can bring our questioning attention to their life of thoughts, feelings and deeds.

George, was a charming monk. He had enough personal wealth to not work. He read. He thought. He wrote. He had this amazing gift for sharing what he read – vast amounts of ideas – with elegant enthusiasm. His listeners would sit in awe while he brought many complex ideas into beautiful images. His thoughts were revealed in his writing of aphorisms, poetry, plays and essays.

George leaves behind his thoughts. His memorial, beyond the loving anecdotes, should celebrate his thoughts.

He was not a doer. I can’t imagine anyone recalling a life of deeds in the world when they remember George. Nor was he a feeling type engaged in nurturing relationships.

His feeling life and his will life were embedded in his thinking. With great and glorious success.

When you think of those who have passed over to the world of spirit, left the world of the senses, do they live in your heart as individuals enriching the world with ideas, with relationships, or with activities of enterprise? We can build such a sense of the soul of an individual by attending to this three-part image. Was your connection to this person established and sustained through their head, their heart or their hands? If you look at what you admired most was it their ability to think, to feel or to will?

What do you want to be remembered for?

My daughter asked me if I thought her father had been happy. Her question inspired the recognition that, a more important question would be “Did he learn his lessons? Did he morally develop?” We don’t necessarily come into life to be happy. We do come into life to evolve our humanity – our ability to love and to be free. If George learned his lessons well his soul is now at peace. He celebrates his own life as he relives it, memorializes it, on the other side of the threshold.

George gave me a great gift. The feelings I felt through our relationship, awakened new thoughts in me. He inspired my thinking always, even with his resentments and even with his death. He did not evoke feelings in me nor did he encourage me to action. His thoughts nurtured my thoughts. He blessed my thought life and I will always be grateful for that blessing.

I hope these George-inspired thoughts, inspire thoughts in you. Please share them.