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  • Writer's pictureRogene "Jeannie" McPherson, Country Notebook

How will you be remembered?

Updated: Apr 18

Country Notebook

By Rogene "Jeannie" McPherson

In a small town cemetery in south-central Nebraska, my name is engraved on a granite tombstone only footsteps from the graves of my parents. As a means of hedging against inflation and frankly to have the last word, I made the decision where I want to buried, who would be next to me, and what was to be engraved on the stone.  

Since none of us know when we will take our last breath, it became obvious if I were to die relatively young, my sons would still be raising my seven grandchildren. I joked, “With your busy schedules, I might be lucky you make time for my burial six hours from Kansas City.”  

I didn’t ask for any feedback from anyone and simply decided, “I want to be buried near my parents and siblings.” My kids seemed a little puzzled until I reminded them I would likely be the only person in our family buried in Centerville, Kansas, near where I live. Not that where one is buried is that big of a deal, but it was one more thing to check off my “final wishes” list.

I’ll be buried next to Ana; no relative, but the space was available and near my parents. Getting this spot involved some legal maneuvering, but in my opinion, worth the extra time and effort.

By now, I probably have some readers rather freaked out, but there really is purpose in my detail. In a few paragraphs down, the answer will be revealed.  My early burial planning can be blamed on my mother.  

My father died at age 56. My mother had almost 30 years as a widow to make her funeral decisions.  More than once we approached the subject of final arrangements, but with no success. Finally I realized why.  I believe she felt she had planned one funeral and that was enough. We were to model her arrangements after the love of her life, our Dad. 

I adopted a somewhat similar plan by contacting the monument company my mother used. I ordered the same design and the granite came from the same quarry. The names and symbols engraved on the stone are unique to me, of course, including the horses, dogs and quail on the backside. 

At the stone’s lower ridge are engraved the words taken from scripture:

 “Act justly, love merciful, walk humbly with God.”  – Micah 6:8 (paraphrased). 

For me, these words are beautiful in how they flow together, but what do they mean?

I’m a member of United Women of Faith, once having been named United Methodist Women. A vital component of this organization is to understand and practice mercy and justice. Let me begin this explanation by indicating we all likely fall short of the expectations of Micah 6:8.  Do I meet the expectations?  Who are we kidding?  I definitely do not. Where we fail is when we don’t even try to meet these goals.

From the United Women in Faith website, there is a great definition as to the relationship between justice and mercy. Simply put, justice requires all people to face the consequences for their misdeeds, but mercy allows for the consequences to be tailored to the situation. 

In this story, I share much detail as to my personal planning – likely more than I should.

However, my purpose is to make a somewhat difficult subject more acceptable or even a little light-hearted as we ask, “How do I want to be remembered?”  When we are being lowered into the grave is not the time to ask. Another timely question is, “Did I try to understand others through being just and merciful?”

Rogene “Jeannie” McPherson, from the Centerville area, is a regular contributor to the Linn County Journal. Her latest book Posts from the Country, Adventures in Rural Living is available online in both virtual and printed editions. Copies are on the shelves at all Linn County libraries.

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