Don’t call me morbid because I’ve spent the past few days preparing obituary examples. I’ll be using these for a class of young people to demonstrate a bit of what “legacy” means: something left behind when you are gone. This is how I happened upon the opportunity to read about “Pink”. I did not know Mary A. “Pink” Mullaney, and she’s been dead since 2013, but I cried a little reading her obituary and only wished I had met her. (I have been lucky enough, though, to know a couple of people as unique as “Pink”).
This is an excerpt from what her family wrote about her: “We were blessed to learn many valuable lessons from Pink during her 85 years, among them: Never throw away old pantyhose. Use the old ones to tie gutters, child-proof cabinets, tie toilet flappers, or hang Christmas ornaments. Also: If a possum takes up residence in your shed, grab a barbecue brush to coax him out. If he doesn’t leave, brush him for twenty minutes and let him stay. Let a dog (or two or three) share your bed. Say the rosary while you walk them. Go to church with a chicken sandwich in your purse. Cry at the consecration, every time. Give the chicken sandwich to your homeless friend after mass. Go to a nursing home and kiss everyone. When you learn someone’s name, share their patron saint’s story, and their feast day, so they can celebrate. Invite new friends to Thanksgiving dinner. If they are from another country and you have trouble understanding them, learn to ‘listen with an accent.’ Never say mean things about anybody; they are ‘poor souls to pray for.’ Put picky-eating children in the box at the bottom of the laundry chute, tell them they are hungry lions in a cage, and feed them veggies through the slats. Correspond with the imprisoned and have lunch with the cognitively challenged. Do the Jumble every morning. Keep the car keys under the front seat so they don’t get lost. Make the car dance by lightly tapping the brakes to the beat of songs on the radio. Offer rides to people carrying a big load or caught in the rain or summer heat. Believe the hitchhiker you pick up who says he is a landscaper and his name is ‘Peat Moss.’ Help anyone struggling to get their kids into a car or shopping cart or across a parking lot. Give to every charity that asks. Choose to believe the best about what they do with your money, no matter what your children say they discovered online. Allow the homeless to keep warm in your car while you are at Mass. Take magazines you’ve already read to your doctors’ office for others to enjoy. Do not tear off the mailing label, ‘Because if someone wants to contact me, that would be nice.’ ”
In a world full of madness and meanness, this is what looking at the world through “rose colored glasses”, remaining an optimist, and practicing random acts of kindness looks like. Legacies come in all shapes and sizes, rather material or something intangible—but the impact is a little piece of immortality.