A professor I know asks his graduate students to write their obituaries, and then to read them to their classmates. I haven't tried writing my own obituary, but I think it's a good way to reflect on one's life.
I was thinking about this on Friday night after I had given a short presentation to the attendees at an alumni reunion at the school where I have worked for almost thirty years. It was a wonderful occasion for me. Former students from five to twenty-five years ago greeted me with big hugs and "I'm so glad you're still here." They told me I am an "institution," and that I had better be there when they celebrate their thirtieth reunion. They look a little different, but they wore name tags, and I could remember something about almost every one of them. They showed me pictures of their children and told me about their accomplishments. Some told me that I had made a difference in their lives. I loved every minute of it.
I haven't got around to writing my obituary, but after Friday night, I figured out what my tombstone might say.
"She loved her students, and they loved her."