Monday, March 21, 2011

3-Word Wisdom 21: Fill your dash

Today’s wisdom comes from an inspirational poem, The Dash, by Linda Ellis. I was not familiar with the poem when I first saw the phrase on the shirts worn by a team of fellow walkers at one of the 3-Day for the Cure breast cancer walks in which Hubby and I participate every year. Their shirts had the image of a beautiful young woman who had lost her battle with breast cancer. Her name, along with her birth and death years indicated that she was clearly gone too soon. The team’s name was “Filling our Dash”. Their message?  The dates representing the years you begin and end your earthly life are less significant than how you live the years within them – represented by the dash separating the two dates. It is how you fill your dash that defines the person you are.

Last April a special friend lost her four-year long battle with ovarian cancer. She had filled her dash raising two children who would become extraordinary adults. She welcomed her first grandchild the same year her cancer was diagnosed, and filled her dash with precious granddaughter time. She and her husband filled the dash between her chemo rounds with cruises and trips to reunite with long-lost family. Witnessing her strength in the face of death was both heartbreaking and inspirational. She was powerless over the outcome of her journey, but she took control of what she could. She planned her funeral service to the last detail – including the musical selections, the bible readings, and the guardian angel pins with a turquoise stone – symbolic of ovarian cancer awareness – that everyone would receive. In her final weeks she set in motion a complete kitchen remodel of her home, and while she did not live to see its completion, she attended to every last detail and finishing touch. To her, it needed to be done – she wanted her husband to have what he would need to be self-sufficient in her absence. She even instructed her daughter to make sure hubby knew the importance of correctly outfitting her beautiful stainless steel and granite designer kitchen with the proper accessories. Norma, your kitchen is a masterpiece and you are dearly missed – and you are my inspiration for filling one’s dash.

Today’s wisdom: Fill your dash. Life can be fleeting – don’t take it for granted. Live life to its fullest, make a difference, and consider the legacy of your life’s “dash”.

The Dash

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning... to the end.

He noted that first came her date of birth and spoke the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years. (1934-1998)

For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth...
and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we won; the cars...the house...the cash,
what matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.. are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left, that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough to consider what's true and real,
and always try to understand the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger, and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives like we've never done before.

If we treat each other with respect, and more often wear a smile.
Remembering that this special dash might only last a while.

So, when your eulogy's being read with your life's actions to rehash...
would you be proud of the things they said about how you spent your dash?

by Linda Ellis

In loving memory of Norma 1953 - 2010

Norma and friends, walking to support ovarian cancer research, May 2009

Norma, her daughter and granddaughter
January, 2010

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