Every once in a while I think about death, usually when I am peeling an apple. It sounds odd I know but let me explain. There is a scene in Sleepless in Seattle when Tom Hanks’ Character, Sam, is talking with his young son Jonah. Jonah tells his dad he is starting to forget his mom, who recently passed away. Sam begins to tell his son things about her, to help him remember. One of the things he says is, “She could peel an apple in one long, curly strip.”
For some reason, that scene has always stuck with me. Now, every time I peel an apple, I think about Death. And even more specifically, I think about my own death. I wonder, what my sons will remember about me when I am gone. I wonder what my wife would tell them to help them remember the little things about me.
Will they remember me as kind, compassionate, loving, affectionate, honest, trustworthy? Will they think of me and remember my smile? Will they remember me reading to them at bedtime or chasing them on the playground, teaching them to ride a bike or play guitar? Will they remember Nerf battles, hide-n-seek, and pillow fights?
I worry instead, they will remember me as distracted, distant or disconnected. I worry they will remember my face in a cell phone, or more recently, a video game. I worry they will remember my flaws, my faults, and my failures because there are so many.
I worry that, like Jonah, they will forget me, and that is even worse.
Sometimes I need these little reminders. I need to peel apples so they remind me to make the most of my time here. To live so that when I am gone, my family will remember me, remember adventures, smiles, and laughter. To impress upon them everything I can now, and maybe when I am gone those impressions will last. Maybe they will laugh while they reminisce about my quirks and idiosyncrasies. And maybe one day, they will even remember the pensive look on my face as I peel an apple, in one long, curly strip.
“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.” -Ernest Hemingway