I received a touching email the other day that got me thinking about how I want to be remembered when my time on earth comes to an end. The email is a brief and beautiful story from one of my favorite authors that I share in today’s show. My guess is that after you hear it, you will want to reflect on how you want to be remembered too.

But before we get into today’s episode, here’s what this podcast is all about.

Welcome to You Were Made for This

If you find yourself wanting more from your relationships, you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll discover practical principles you can use to experience the life-giving relationships you were made for.

I’m your host, John Certalic, award-winning author and relationship coach, here to help you find more joy in the relationships God designed for you.

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The author of one of my all-time favorite books

One of the top five books I’ve ever read is Quiet – The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I’ve mentioned the book in previous episodes, and I think at some point I should do a deeper dive review of it. She has a new book that came out late last year in 2022 that is also worthy of a review, Bittersweet – How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole.

I’ll have links to both books in the show notes.

With two books under her belt, and online courses she developed, Susan Cain also started a weekly email newsletter, which I signed up for.

Sign up for my own weekly email newsletter

As a side note here, many of the listeners to this podcast also get my weekly email which gives a brief description of that week’s episode. If you’re not getting this yourself every Wednesday, and would like to, go to johncertalic.com, scroll a few inches down the page, and under “Actionable relationship insights delivered weekly to your inbox,” enter your name and email address.

Okay. Back to Susan Cain and the story she tells in the recent email she wrote. Here’s what she said:

On my way to tennis a few weeks ago, I realized I forgot my water bottle at home. I pulled into a gas station and asked if they sold water.

“We have no store,” said the attendant. Then he looked at me, went to his office, and came back with two bottles of Poland Spring. I pulled out my wallet. “No, no,” he said, waving off my dollars with a wistful smile. “You have the face of my mother.”

The man wasn’t young; he wore a turban and spoke with a heavy accent; he was far from his childhood home. I imagine it’s been many years since he last saw his mother. I drove away with tears in my eyes. The gift he gave me that day was precious as water itself.

This is why we’re alive – for moments like this…

What a beautiful line, This is why we’re alive – for moments like this… I’ll come back to it in a little bit
Her encounter with the gas station attendant reminded me of a similar event I experienced last summer.

A similar encounter

My wife Janet and I wanted to get together with our three local grandkids, so we offered to take them out to dinner one evening. They wanted to go to Mod Pizza. It’s one of those chain restaurants where you go through a line and they make a personal pizza for each person. It looks like an assembly line where they add any of the ingredients you want onto your pizza, and then they stick it in a blazing stone oven. You go sit down at a table and they call you when your individual pizza is done and out of the oven.

So there we were in line, Janet, our three adult-size grandkids all taller than her, and me at the end of the line. As we waited, we joked around with each other until it was our turn to order. One by one each person in our party told the pizza preparer the ingredients they each wanted on their pizza.

The person behind the counter making our pizzas was a friendly sort in her mid-20s; working a part-time job was my guess. I was last in line and when it came to my turn to order, she looked up at me from the last pizza she had just finished, smiled, and said in a surprised and cheerful tone.

“Oh, you look just like my father.”

I smiled back at her and quickly bantered with her saying, “I bet he is a very handsome man.”

She paused briefly, and then smiled again and said wistfully, “Yeah, he was. He died 6 months ago. You remind me of him.”

A reflective moment

I don’t remember what I said next. Did I say “Oh, I’m sorry for your loss?” I don’t remember. I was so taken by her smile and the nostalgic expression on her face that spoke volumes about her relationship with her father. Here is a young woman who loved her father, who felt loved by him, and who was so very grateful for this loving relationship they shared. It was all over her face.

I enjoy being with our grandkids every time we’re together. But all I could think of the rest of this evening was this 20-something pizza preparer. Her smile told me her father must have been a good man, a good father. It was a bittersweet moment to be thought of  like him. I felt honored.

It made me wonder how I’ll be remembered by my wife and kids, and grandkids when I’m gone. What will they think of me 6 months after the funeral? Will they smile fondly as the pizza preparer did to me?

“This is why we’re alive – for moments like this.”

Earlier I mentioned that I was taken by the line from Susan Cain’s email that I quoted, “This is why we’re alive – for moments like this.”

We all leave something of ourselves behind, intentionally or not. Something of ourselves that blesses people and invokes gratitude, or sadly, sometimes just the opposite. We’re connected with each other more than we realize.

I would like to be remembered for how I related to people. Was I kind to others? Did I bring out the best in people? Was I humble? Above all, did I reflect well the character of God, which is why I was brought into the world in the first place? It’s why you and Susan Cain were brought into the world, as well. It’s the best way to be remembered after we’ve left this life.

Sometimes that’s all we need to know about who we are and how we are to live. This is why we’re alive – for moments like this.

Another connection point

Getting back to Susan Cain’s email and her story about the gas station attendant, she said

If you’ve had an experience like this (or a distant cousin to this), I would love to hear about it. (I read every single one of your e-mails, and do my best to reply to some of them.)

So I wrote back to her and summarized the story I just told you about the pizza preparer who said I reminded her of her father who died six months earlier.

A week later I received an email from a person by the name of Renee, who indicated she was Susan Cain’s chief of Staff. Her email said,

Dear John — 

Susan read and loved your letter. It gave her goosebumps! 

She asked me to tell you she was so happy you wrote to her and that you're part of our community. We wish you the very best! 

— R

My best,

Here’s another connection. My mother’s name was Renee. She died 10 years ago.

So what does all this mean for YOU?

How can you use what you’ve heard today to help you find more joy in the relationships in your life?

I think God used the 20-something pizza preparer to cause me to reflect on how I want to be remembered. I thought her father is someone I’d like to be like. Where 6 months after my funeral, the family will be out for pizza and they’ll see someone that reminds them of me. And it will bring a smile to everyone’s face.

I can’t control what their response will be after I’m gone. What I can control now is my behavior, attitude, and values which gives me the best chance of being remembered well.

The same is true for you, too. How do you want to be remembered? It’s not too late to start being the person you want to be. And if you’re about 80% there, rejoice and be glad in the progress you’ve made. Trust God to help you with the other 20% as you get closer to the finish line.

If you forget everything else from today’s episode, here’s the one thing I hope you remember

It’s wise to think now about how you will be remembered. You still have time to become the best version of yourself that will make people smile after you’re gone.


Before we wrap up today’s show, if you’d like some input regarding a relationship question or issue you’re dealing with, I’d love to hear from you. Just go to JohnCertalic.com/question to leave me a voicemail. If you’d rather put your question in writing, enter it in the Comment box at the bottom of the show notes.

I’ll do my best to answer your question in a future episode.

In closing, I’d also love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to think about how you want to be remembered, and what you might need to do to make that happen.

For when you think and reflect upon things like this, it will help you experience the joy of relationships God desires for you. Because after all, You Were Made for This.

Well, that’s it for today. If there’s someone in your life you think might like to hear what you just heard, please forward this episode on to them. Scroll down to the bottom of the show notes and click on one of the options in the yellow “Share This” bar.

And don’t forget to spread a little relational sunshine around the people you meet this week. Spark some joy for them. Remind them of someone good in their life. And I’ll see you again next time. Goodbye for now.

Other episodes or resources related to today’s shows

130: Be Thankful We Can Make Memories for People

021: The Most Important Relationship of All

Susan Cain’s books

Bittersweet – How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole

Quiet – The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking

Last week’s episode

195: Words Matter

All past and future episodes:   JohnCertalic.com

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