I have attended services or been otherwise involved (writing obituaries) for three community leaders who passed on in recent months; former Pleasanton Mayor Ken Mercer, former City Councilwoman Karin Mohr and businessman and Taylor Family Foundation co-founder Barry Taylor.
Reflecting on what people said about each of them, there is one dominant fact: their love for family is what those closest to them will remember most.
Love of children and grandchildren and time spent with them is what was cited in each case.
When Elaine Taylor spoke at the well-attended memorial service for Barry, she cited the three most important gifts he gave her: adopting her young son as his own; giving her a daughter through their love and taking care of her aging parents as if they were his own.
Memories of Ken from a number of people who knew him well started with what a devoted father and grandfather he wasalways there for his grandkidsin victory and defeat on the sports fieldencouraging them and being present.
One friend mentioned how in recent months, he had started taking them out one-on-one (he has five) to focus individual attention on them and how rewarding it had been.
As the father of just one daughter, I can agree on how important called-out special times have been to us.
These recent events further solidified the comments I read in a Wall Street Journal New Year's column by Peggy Noonan. She had reached out to a number of public figure (media, politicians and others) for what was memorable about 2013. Invariably, the most important events concerned their own family (kids or grandkids)not their jobs or their interests.
There's a message in this for all of us.
Ken, at 71, and prior to his diagnosis very healthy, was taken way too soon. Same goes for Barry (fallen by a heart attack at 74again apparently quite healthy) and Karin (74, by a fall from a ladder while cleaning her guttersclimbing ladders at that age testifies to her physical health).
None of us know how long we have on this globein my view; only our Heavenly Father knows that number. Our job is to focus on our calling and on investing our time wisely in those we love and blessing others as we are able.