Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

September 3, 2017


How will your children remember you?


        One day, sooner than you may think, your earthly life will be over. Your body will be ashes in a jar or slowly turning to ashes in a grave. But you will be remembered by your family and others whom you have known.

        Sometimes the thought of dying gives me cold chills, but then I remind myself that death is inevitable. Everybody dies sooner or later. Methuselah may have lived 969 years but he eventually died like everyone else. And, if you believe the Bible, and I do, after death your soul will wind up either in heaven or that other place that none of us likes to think about. In heaven you will have a new body, a spiritual body, and there will be no more crying there.

        While we are still alive in this place where people cry, we should pause and consider how we shall be remembered. How will your spouse remember you? Your best friend? Your children? Your colleagues at work? Your neighbors? Will you be remembered for your kindness or your selfishness? Your gentleness or your stubbornness?

        This summer I had fun collecting and publishing memories of my Daddy written by his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and other family members. I was surprised that so many remembered Daddy for his principles, tenacity, integrity, unselfishness, kindness and even his generosity.

        As I read the memories of Daddy written by my sons, I began to wonder how they will remember me. It reminded me that every day I need to focus on living by the highest standards not only to please God but so that my family’s memories of me will be “precious” to them. I made a lot of mistakes as a dad while raising my boys and I hope they have forgiven me.

        Perhaps you can identify with some of my feelings as you read what my son Steve had to say about his grandfather:   

“In the spring of 1984 Auburn University and I mutually agreed that I would take the spring quarter off.  My freshman year had ended with a thud.  I had injured my left knee for the 4th time in five years playing intermural basketball and needed surgery.

“I had the surgery in Montgomery and went to recover at the home of my grandparents Walter and Caroline Albritton. Papa and Grandmother’s house was out in the country about ten miles from Wetumpka. Papa was fine with my taking a couple days to rest after the surgery and then helping him with his garden since I had no job.  After a week of helping Papa with his huge garden, my cousin, John Mark Williams, got me a job at Chuck E Cheese in Montgomery. 

“John Mark saved my life!  Waving people down on a busy highway in a rat suit doesn’t seem like much of a job but man, working in that garden felt like being stranded at Alcatraz. Even though I was making nearly a hundred dollars a week, Papa never asked for a penny and always seemed glad he could help me out.

“A few weeks later, John Mark and I headed to Yellowstone Park, gladly leaving behind the Alcatraz garden and the Chuck E Cheese rat suit.

After the Yellowstone adventure, I rolled back home in the fall with no money, no job and no place to live.  Papa said, “Come on in and stay awhile.” I gladly accepted the opportunity.

“That fall I made the Dean’s list at AUM and got hired at UPS, working nights. Some of my fondest memories are sitting with Papa and Grandmother watching television before going to work the night shift. 

“I would get in about 4:00 am. About 7:00 am every morning Papa would walk into my room with a walk that would wake the dead.  “Steve, you want breakfast?” Afraid to turn him down, I would drag out and eat.  He would usually say, ”Oh, you just got in a little while ago; I forgot!” You have to understand that Papa could think of no good reason anyone should be asleep after the sun came up!

        “I lived with them over the next year until Amy and I got married.  It was a great chapter in my life and a time I cherish to this day. Back then I never thought that one day I would live in the Old Home Place and become a steward of what Papa had built with his own strong hands in 1930.  I have worked hard to restore the home to its original condition and even made a few improvements. 

“Some things about the home may look better but I am unable to match the yard or garden that Papa and Grandmother maintained. Grandmother had flowers everywhere – and a greenhouse as big as a barn! Still it feels good to keep their memory alive and I hope everyone in the family will always feel welcome to come ‘back home’ for a spell.

“Amy and I have kept alive the traditional Thanksgiving gathering to honor Papa and Grandmother. Family was important to them. They loved having the family break bread together. That’s why we are always ready to host a family reunion.”

        If you think seriously about how your loved ones will remember you, it will prompt you to live a kinder, more gentle and generous life! + + +