This afternoon I attended the funeral of a lady that I have known through church for many years.
The love and respect in which Anne is held is well illustrated by the fact that this was the 2nd of 3 planned services. There had already been a cremation service last week. Today's funeral/interment service was held in St Catherine's church which she had attended for many years. In a few weeks the 3rd service, a celebration of her life, will be held in Winchester Cathedral - the fact that it is being held in the cathedral again speaks to the number of people whose lives she has touched.
I always knew that she did a lot but it is still a surprise when you hear everything talked about at once in the address. As someone put it - she was the epitome of the saying that if you want something done you should give it to a busy person. Be it in the church, choirs, school or community Anne could be found taking an active role and making a difference.
She certainly fitted a lot into her life and was a blessing to many people. One of the speakers at the service suggested that all of the congregation should find something we could do to help others - as he put it this would be more "pay forward" than "pay back" for all we had received from Anne over the years. He certainly felt this would be a legacy she'd be pleased with. We may already be busy doing things but in a way that would make it all the more apt for us to do something else.
Having just completed the annual appraisal process at work, with its focus on just 12 short months of impact, today's service has reminded me of the importance of stepping back and looking at the longer term and considering what our own legacy will be. I was also reminded of a film I saw some years ago ( might have been "Death becomes Her") where 2 of the characters are seeking to live forever by taking a magical elixir. The husband however refuses to take the potion - arguing that even though his mortal life will finish he will live forever though his family and through the impact that he has had on people's lives.
Over the years I've read a lot of articles/books/etc which talk about the importance and power of a positive attitude. This is another area where Anne provided us with a great example to follow. She has spent that last few years battling with cancer but though it all retained a positive outlook and a focus on what she could achieve.
There will be rejoicing in heaven but she will be sadly missed by those she leaves behind. On earth she will live on through her powerful and wide reaching legacy that was encapsulated today in a eulogy to be proud of. RIP Anne.