Originally published in the News-Graphic on April 11, 1999.

Suppose you were out chopping weeds from your garden one morning and you learned that before supper, you would be gone. What would you do?

Would you try to go to your loved ones and let them know how much you really care? Perhaps you would need to ask forgiveness from someone you had hurt? Would that be your mission?

There are many things I am sure we would consider if we knew this was to be our last day. But if we are truly living life according to the divine plan, then we can just keep on chopping weeds.

How we live our lives, from beginning to end, is the most important legacy we can leave. I received a poem this week that expresses this better than any words of mine. If we follow its thoughts, perhaps, we can just keep on chopping weeds.

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 the date of her birth

and spoke of the following date with tears,

but said that what mattered most of all was the dash between the years.

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 own;

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.

You could be at ‘mid-dash range.’

Are there people that you’ve left behind?

Things you’ve left unsaid?

Words you need to think again?

Fences you need to mend?

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 loved before.

Can we treat each other with respect,

and more often wear a smile ...

Remembering that this special dash

will only last awhile.

So, when your eulogy’s being read

and your life is being rehashed,

Would you be proud of what they have to say

about how you spent your dash?

Author unknown

George Lusby is the former Scott County judge-executive. A collection of his columns, “The Best of Crawfish and Minnows,” is available at the News-Graphic office.

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