By Kristen Seeber
Women’s Fund of Smith County
Not a week goes by that I don’t receive something from my mom. She’ll mail a hand-written letter, telling me about her busy days or about a book I must read. I have stacks of newspaper and magazine clippings she has sent with sticky notes attached, explaining why she thinks I’ll find them interesting. There will be an email in my inbox from her with a link to a blog she knows will inspire me. A text will appear on my phone to make me smile. Ever since I moved away to college, I have collected and cherished these different messages from her. In reality, though, they are all the same. They are reminders that she thinks of me and, most of all, that she loves me.
One of the more recent emails from my mom has a subject line of “It’s What You Scatter.” The feel-good story describes a modest life of kindness and the lives that are changed, in turn, because of its generosity. The moral is delivered in the closing quote, “It’s not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived.”
As simplistic as the theme may seem, it has resonated with me and become more layered since first glance. Within the span of just two weeks, I attended three memorial services and said goodbye to three remarkable men who lived remarkable lives – lives that scattered, not gathered.
We remembered, with joy, the life of our oldest son’s childhood friend. He left us too soon at age 24, but we are better because of what he scattered – unrestrained laughter, unwavering loyalty, unending optimism and unforgettable grit. I cheered for that boy on the T-ball field, and I will cheer for that beautiful soul always.
My friend I have loved the longest married the greatest of guys. With fearless tenacity, he overcame his battle with ALS closely after his 59th birthday. He was far from a gatherer. His arms, his hands were wide open. He scattered humor and heart, faith and friendship, courage and charisma.
Another life celebrated was that of a true gentleman who was on this earth for 91 years. His wife, whom I admire and adore, planned a glorious service filled with his favorite music and blessed assurance from scripture. To live that long is to have more opportunities to scatter, and scatter he did. Benevolence, wisdom, respect, time and prayer are but a few of the gifts he gave with grace.
Whether 24 years, 59 years or 91 years – never is it easy to say goodbye. Yet, we are promised only today. The story in the email from my mom goes on to say, “Today I wish you a day of ordinary miracles – a fresh pot of coffee you didn’t make yourself, an unexpected phone call from an old friend, green traffic lights on your way to work, the fastest line at the grocery store, a favorite song on the radio, your keys found exactly where you left them.”
Sometimes the ordinary leads to the extraordinary. The simple definition of philanthropy is love for mankind. My three friends practiced philanthropy in both big and small ways. Surely, they gathered much during their lifetimes. But it’s what they scattered that matters and, like the messages from my mom, what reminds us to think of others with love.
Kristen Seeber serves as president of the Women’s Fund of Smith County, a collective giving circle of more than 275 women which awards annual grants to nonprofit programs that transform our community and enrich the lives of women and children. For information on mission and membership, please visit www.womensfundsc.org