What Do You Want on Your Tombstone?


The obituaries.

I read them. A lot.

I’m not sure why I read them so much. At times I wonder if there is anyone I know of that has died recently. Or maybe I like to read the stories that goes along with each individual.

Tidy and neat are some.

It’s a shame to have someone defined in 500 characters or less. Some list all the accomplishments of there lives. Some died to young to have any accomplishments at all.

Most have a photo, name and a headline that sums up their lives.

There was a man that had passed away in his 60’s. His headline read,

“He Loved Restoring Pinball Machines”

Pinball Machines.


Having your life summed up by your love of pinball machines seems so meaningless.

Reading his obituary caused a little panic deep inside me.

I panicked because I realize my kids are growing older. Fast.

And so am I.

I’m panicked by the thought of how will I be defined. What will I be defined by?

What defines me now?

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, I think of the life I have now. And the life I have yet to live. I’m thankful knowing that as long as there is breath to be breathed I still have a choice to define who I will be.

I want integrity when it’s easier to do the wrong thing.

Faithfulness when everything seems hopeless.

Empathy for those that others deem as less than.

To love my wife. Well. To one day celebrate 50 years.

To father my children well, not just good enough.

To be known as someone who is kind and gracious.

To be humble, making those around me feel important no matter what their status is.

And to exude Christ.

So I end with an old commercial quote for pizza:

“What do you want on your tombstone?”


  • Brian Gardner

    Such a great reflective post, Jesse — and one perfectly in tune with the season we’re heading into.

    I know for a fact that as a husband and father, I’ve continually had to remind myself of the kinds of things that you bring into question in your post.

    Things I should have said, things I should have done. More importantly things I should be saying, and things I should be doing.

    This all reminds me of a something I wrote a year and a half ago about bull riding and life lessons:


    Give a read when you have some time, it’ll probably resonate with ya!

  • http://www.warrenbaldwin.blogspot.com/ Warren Baldwin

    Just found your blog. Looks good.
    A good tombstone summary: “He made a difference.”