This week has been a tough one for me. I am grateful to God that I am alive. While on the hospital bed, I had some time to do a lot of introspection. The following article is the result of that so much thinking. I hope it changes your perspective on life as much as this week has changed mine.
Thank you so much for sharing last week’s post. I had the most reads on my column yet last week and I owe it to all of you. Let’s set another record today, shall we?
Thank you in advance.
When I die
Years after my death
How deep is my footprint?
Will they remember me?
Should I die today….
When I’m gone
Notable people do notable things for they take notice of the unnoticed. They think beyond our thinking. They look beyond what we all look. They try, fail, and try again. They dare unrelentingly. They don’t die with their purpose. They die on their purpose. Though they die, their purpose ever lives. – Ernest Agyemang Yeboah
There was news about the passing of one Akua Akyaa Nkrumah, may her soul rest in peace. I do not know her personally, but from what I have read so far, it is safe to say she made her mark no matter how short it was. Can I say same about myself? This week has been a pretty tough one for me. I have put my family and roommates, especially, through hell and back. To the former, it was normal, but my roommates thought I was going to die. Being admitted at the hospital is a routine I am used to and I have faith that very soon, it will be a memory. Many will wonder how true this is because my presence was on felt on Facebook. That is the disadvantage of social media. No one knows who is okay or not. Enough about me.
Someday, the inevitable, death would come knocking, leaving no room for excuses. Have you ever wondered what you would be remembered for when you are no more? I find myself asking these questions time and again: What do I want to be remembered for when I no longer am? Who do I want people to say I was at my memorial service? Would my life be worth celebrating in the next decades to come? Would my name be a household name, flowing from that luscious reservoir of milk into the mouth of the newborn babe? Would future generations hear of me after I have left to be with my father? No one knows.
In his sermon titled “The Drum Major Instinct,” the peerless civil rights activist, Martin Luther King envisioned his own funeral and laid bare what he would want to be remembered for:
“If any of you are around when I must meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize—that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school.
I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.
Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I want to say.”
Tomorrow is not promised. Death is no gong-gong beater. Neither of us will be notified of its coming. What am I doing TODAY to customize my name, integrity, and memory in the hearts and minds of people? Do I want to be remembered as that lady who fought all odds to achieve the seemingly impossible? Yes, I do. Komla Dumor, H. E. John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills, Yaa Asantewaa, Efo Kodjo Mawugbe, Chinua Achebe, Nelson Mandela, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah – all those who have journeyed to the land beyond the skies, may their souls rest in perfect peace- have specific and unique reasons why their names continue to live on.
That ‘Asomdwehene’ whose mere presence calms the heart of a battle-ready warrior. The man whose compassion soothed the agony of the widows and orphans. That man who despite his poor health, served his motherland with all seriousness and commitment till his body gave him up. That freedom fighter, who took charge when the men were weak, tired and afraid to fight the British. Yaa Asantewaa, one whose courage and fearlessness is unrivaled. That woman who disproved the notion that only men could lead. Ha! That woman whose name is forever etched in the history of Ghana, and is not going anywhere, anytime soon.
That man, Osagyefo whose freedom speech, ‘At long last, the battle has ended! And thus Ghana, your beloved country is free forever.’ – brought back the joy we once knew and enjoyed before the Europeans’ invasion. That man whose visionary projects we still enjoy. The man celebrated as one of the best presidents that ever lived. I want to be in the class of my own.
I don’t want to be remembered as fake and pretentious, that lady who didn’t know her left from her right and went where the wind demanded. But as an assertive woman who knew what she wanted and went after it no matter the risks involved. A woman who didn’t allow the mass to decide for her because she had a functioning brain. A woman who didn’t wait till the perfect timing to make a move, but created the perfect moment to suit her; The lady who stayed true to her calling.
I want to be remembered as that Christian, whose life was, still is, worthy of emulation. That lady who used her ink to change the world. I want to be that one lady’s whose books captivated and changed the lives of people. No, I don’t want to be the next Chinua Achebe, Ama Ata Aidoo, or even the next Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
I want to be known as the first Able Delalie. If any other person wants to be like me, that is their loss. I want to be known as that one writer who exhausted her ink in her lifetime. That Pharmacist who risked her life to bring smiles on the faces of the dejected. I want to be remembered by my family as the best daughter and sister that ever lived; that wife he would want to be with over and over again. The perfect example of a mother. I would want people to look at my achievements and admit, ‘that was one good life she led.’ Yes, me. And I am going nowhere until I achieve this. So help me God.
What do you want to be remembered for? Think about it and work towards it. Should you die today, would you be forgotten even before you are finally ushered into the world beyond? If your answer is in the affirmative, do something. Live your life today. Speak out. Spread your wings. Touch the world like no one has done. Stay true to your calling.
Until you do something worth remembering, you never lived. Live every day as if it were your last. Go about your daily activities with all the zeal and you can muster. You do not know the moment you will breathe your last breath.