I remember as a young kid hearing about the story of “The Dash.” How, when you get to the end of your life, everything that you did will be represented by a single dash between two dates. We don’t have control over the start or the finish, or in fact, many of the details and occurrences that happen between the two. However, we do have a choice over how we live with the time we are given. What we decide to do with it has a direct impact on the people in our lives, even people we’ll never meet. If you haven’t read this poem by Linda Ellis, you can do so here.
My mom loves reading obituaries, and her mother did too. That being said, maybe it’s no surprise that my Granny Fran was the one who originally introduced me to the concept of “The Dash.” Granny Fran was quite a character and although I can’t remember the details, I’m sure she taught us this poem and lesson in a tender, loving way to plant some seeds in the minds of her young grandchildren down in Georgia. When I think of someone who maximized their ‘dash’ and put so much of herself into lifting others up, I think of my grandmother, Frances Schultz. She was a nurse, teacher, volunteer, a mother of eight, and a loving wife, sister, daughter, and the best grandmother. During our summer trips to visit her in central Illinois, she would always insist on ice cream for breakfast for my siblings and me. In fact, in her 80’s several years before she passed away, she won a local ice cream eating championship against grown men three times her size. She hosted priests and nuns, foreign exchange students, family, and just about anyone else who showed up at the door in need of a home cooked meal and a place to stay.
I was in middle school when she passed away, but I can still remember her funeral and how packed the church was of people from all over who knew and loved, but most importantly, were loved by Fran. I wish I could have spent more time with her, to have some of the conversations and ask her questions that I wonder about in this season of my life. I have a photo of her by my sink in the bathroom so I see her gentle smile and face every morning and evening when I brush my teeth. I feel her presence and that even though she isn’t physically with me, her spirit is with me, and she is cheering me on each and every day. Granny Fran was also a writer, and I do feel a special connection to her in that way. She wrote a book titled “Letters to My Grandchildren” and at the end she shares that each one of us has certain gifts. Regardless of the type of gift, much is expected of us to develop those talents, especially in enhancing the lives of others. As a writer, Granny Fran also instilled in me the belief in the handwritten letter and thank you note.
We recently finished up a novel as part of our little book club and at the very end of the book in the acknowledgment section was page after page of names of people who had touched and impacted the life of the author. There were no details or context next to the names… some were just first names or simply usernames. The list at the end of the book sparked an idea … an idea for a mindfulness exercise that we’re each doing this month and invite you to do with us :) Below, you’ll find a link to a FREE template we’ve created with a single prompt & intention. Can you sift through your memories & remember everyone that has made a difference in your life? There are no rules, you can do it all at once, or break it up over several days or weeks. It’s totally up to you! But … we have a hunch that when we, you and me, begin to list out the people who have impacted our lives, we will 1) be amazed at how much people have done for us, and 2) be inspired to lift up others using our own unique gifts.
You’re a gifted writer Katherine! This piece transcends time and makes me reflect on my own life. Thank you!
Another great piece by Katherine Lacksen!! Katherine has inherited the genes to be a thoughtful, sensitive writer just like her grandmother. She sees the world from an awesome perspective.