I think about my obituary as often as I think about the inner workings of my appliances. Which would be not at all. And I generally think that’s a good thing. Until something goes horribly wrong (like lint clogging the dryer vent… but that’s another subject altogether).

So I’m sitting at home two weeks ago, minding my own business — not contemplating my existence in the least — when I receive an e-mail from our church sharing news of the sudden death of one of the church staff.

We’ve upgraded from Christmas-and-Easter Catholics to twice-a-month Catholics, but still I didn’t personally know this man. I get the impression he was well-liked, and it’s a tragedy to lose anyone at 47. Still, I admit I went on with my day.

Last week my mother-in-law opens the Chicago Tribune to the obituaries. Cheery, no? And she brings my attention to an article about the man from our church (my in-laws miss nothing, I tell you). I didn’t even know him, but I read it.

And I saved it.

And I keep thinking about it.

It’s the most amazing profile of a life, someone who had such a profound affect on the lives of others. And from an unlikely source: a custodian. A husband and father. Not someone noted for his power or wealth, but instead for his character and compassion.

Now I can’t help but contemplate my existence. What will my obituary say? Because the way people remember Gilbert Gonzales? That’s they way I hope someday someone will remember me. Gilbert Gonzales is changing my life, and he’s no longer here. That’s a legacy.

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