On August 11th, after a long battle with heart disease, my mom, Linda Santore, passed away.
As a therapist and a speaker who has devoted so much of my life to helping others navigate some of life’s biggest challenges, I found myself in the position of not only needing to encourage my family who was mourning her loss, but also trying to find the strength and the words to honor the incredible legacy she leaves in her wake.
As I prepared her eulogy, I had the chance to reflect not only on the amazing person my mom was, but also on the countless lessons we could learn from her life...and in the process, I realized that my mom was the ultimate teacher.
The experience of writing the speech I would give to honor her life was nothing short of spiritual. Two things happened during that time
First, there was an unmistakable energy that guided the entire process. With tears and chills, the words just flowed in a way that can only be described as divine intervention.
And second, the message that came through was so powerful that I believe it’s one that’s meant to be shared far beyond the people who attended her funeral. I truly believe these words are meant for everyone, which is why I want to share them here, with you, today.
My prayer is that this message would resonate with your heart and will serve as a guidepost to impact your life for the better. I can think of no better way to honor the life and legacy of my mom.
Everyone who knew my mom, knew my mom loved them.
Those who were closest to her also knew what a fighter she was, and she fought all the way until the very end.
My mom was loved by many, and left a legacy of being positive in all situations, loving God with all her heart, being kind to everyone, and paying it forward always.
From a long family line of barbers, she not only cut people’s hair, but she also touched the lives of every person who sat in her chair...everyone left her better than they came—and not because of the hair cuts! ; )
She showed her love in many different ways, but one of them was by giving gifts. Often times, this was in the form of a physical gift, whether it was a craft she made, a special treat, or a little trinket. What’s funny is that in looking back at the fruit of her life, I realize now that her entire life was a GIFT to everyone she knew, and it will continue to bless us for many years to come.
And isn’t that a beautiful legacy to leave behind? There’s so much that each and every one of us can learn from her about a life well-lived.
There’s a poem I love by Linda Ellis, called “The Dash”. In it, she says:
“I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone, from the beginning to the end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth, and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own, the cars, the house, the cash. What matters is how we live and love, and how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard; are there things you'd like to change? For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough to consider what's true and real, and always try to understand the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger, and show appreciation more, and love the people in our lives like we've never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile, remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.
So when your eulogy is being read with your life's actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?” —
In life, each of us has a start date and an end date. We come into this world on a certain date, and we go out on a certain date...but that little hyphen — that little line in between the beginning and the end of our lives is what we call “The Dash”.
The word “dash” means a sprint, or a short period of time. If you think about it, that dash is what sets us up for eternity, and that is really what a life well-lived is all about.
A dash is quick, and a life is quick. If you think of it that way, realizing that each and every day is a gift, and that this is all the time we get on earth to set us up for eternity, then you won’t waste a precious minute of your life.
That’s the thing about my mom, she never wasted a minute with anyone. It didn’t matter if she was walking into the doctors office, talking to the mail lady, to the cashier in the drive through, or to the person in her barbers chair, my mom always made sure the person in front of her felt known and loved.
She may not have been wealthy in a worldly sense, but she was wealthy in an eternal sense. Because, you see, it’s not about what you have in life, it’s about how you make people feel.
My mom lived such a rich life, and there’s so much we can learn from her to not only carry on her legacy, but also to ensure we make the most of our time here on earth.
Our thank you back to God is how we show up in this life and what we do with our time on earth. He put us here to be a blessing to others, and the way we live each and every day is how we honor Him. I am confident God is well pleased with how my mom lived her life.
People often wonder what the meaning of life is. Some may be unsure, but my mom knew exactly what it was —to love God with all your heart, love your family and friends, serve others every day, to leave others better than you found them, and to remain strong in faith even in the midst of adversity.
My mom had to endure unimaginable amounts of pain and suffering during her life, yet she was always positive, joyful, and strong.
Even in her weakness, my mom found strength. Her strength came from Christ, and with that firm foundation, each and every one of us has the potential to make it through anything that life throws our way.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says it like this:
But he said to me, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I know if my mom were standing here today, she would tell you: “You could endure anything if you have the strength of Christ in you”.
If you’re sitting here today thinking “I’ve veered of track”, or “I don’t know where to start”, “I don’t know if I can do this anymore” or “I’ve lost faith”, then I’m here to tell you this, on behalf of my mom: the first step to getting back on track is to invite Jesus into your heart. Ask Him to lead you, get into the word of God, be in community, and serve the Lord each and every day of your life from this point forward. Trust me when I tell you that when you do this, legions of angels, including my mom, will be cheering you on.
My prayer today is that this message leaves you better than you came, and that right this minute you make a commitment to make each and every moment of your dash count, because it does.
Darleen Santore, known to many as “Coach Dar”, is a Board Certified Occupational Therapist, author and speaker who inspires everyone she touches to break through barriers and live their best life. When she isn’t busy coaching others, Darleen can be found serving her community or cheering on her favorite sports teams (Go Yanks!). Be sure to follow her on Instagram where she regularly shares hefty doses of insight and inspiration.