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FIRST-PERSON: How will you be remembered?

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP) — What do Fred Phelps, L’Wren Scott, Scott Asheton and David Brenner have in common? Not only did each die this past week, their obituaries were reported on CNN’s website.

CNN’s obituaries page carries a subtitle, “The lives they’ve lived.” The four obituaries the news service called attention to serve as a reminder that death is a reality and how you live is how you will be remembered.

Phelps’ obituary described him as “the founding pastor of a Kansas church known for its virulently anti-gay protests at public events, including military funerals….” Phelps, 84, died of natural causes on March 19, according to his obit.

Scott was described as “a noted fashion designer who has been Mick Jagger’s companion for more than a decade….” CNN reported. Scott was found dead in her New York apartment of an apparent suicide on March 17. She was 49.

Asheton’s obit said he “co-founded and played drums for the influential proto-punk band the Stooges.” He was 64 when he died on March 15. “Scott was a great artist,” singer Iggy Popp said of Asheton, according to CNN. “I have never heard anyone play the drums with more meaning than Scott.”

Brenner’s obituary said he was a comedian who was a regular on Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show.” He died after a battle with cancer on March 15 at age 78. Brenner appeared “more times than any other guest — 158, according to a bio on his official website,” CNN reported. Brenner also was a writer/producer and author of five books.

News services’ obituary sections carry the deaths of the well-known and the obscure, the wealthy and the poor, the loved and the loathed. As with the CNN obituaries, these brief biographies are a constant reminder that death is a reality.

Several years ago the Sharper Image stores offered a device called the Life Clock. It was no ordinary timepiece.

Triangular in shape with a digital display, the clock had a unique feature where a person could enter his or her date of birth. The device would then utilize actuarial information to calculate how much time remained in his or her life expectancy. The Life Clock would then count down the days, hours, minutes and seconds a person might expect to live.

The Life Clock was never a big seller. It seems few people wanted to be reminded of the seconds of their life clicking down.

“It is not that I am afraid to die,” film director and actor Woody Allen once said, “I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

The Bible states a sobering truth in Hebrews 9:27: “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”

Some of us will be remembered only by family, friends and acquaintances. Others, like those reported by CNN this week, will be remembered by many. Regardless of how many people remember us, we will be remembered by how we lived.

Consider the deaths CNN included on its obituary page this past week.

Fred Phelps is remembered primarily for his vehement opposition of homosexuality that led to the picketing of funerals of individuals and members of the armed services.

L’Wren Scott, according to CNN, is best remembered for designing clothes and being in a decade-long relationship with a septuagenarian rock-n-roll star.

Scott Asheton is remembered for being a good drummer and David Brennan is remembered for making people laugh.

How do you want family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and others to remember you? How you want to be remembered is how you should start living — today. Consistency is the key to making an enduring impression. If, for example, you want to be remembered as a caring individual, start to exhibit care toward others today, tomorrow, the next day and the next. However, you want to be remembered, live it!
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press, director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s office of public affairs, and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • Kelly Boggs