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Life Words & Tall Trees

Updated on March 3, 2009



A few years back, as part of a spiritual development class, I was given the daunting task of writing an obituary, my own.

Confusion set in. I asked. You want me to write what?

After some humble pondering, I understood.

When we're gone, what qualities do we want spoken about us? -- How do we wish to be remembered? -- How do we envision our obituary to read?

It's a simple concept with far-reaching ramifications. The mere idea of mortality is unsettling enough without the added stress of digging deep to unearth our life's priorities.

Yes indeed, writing your own obituary is a journey into the heart.

The other men in the class were equally assigned. Upon completion, we each read our self epitaphs aloud. All I can say is wow. You begin to gain a better understanding of people when you hear them relate their legacy.

Like yourself, you'll get a glimpse into their hearts. Their strengths and weaknesses begin to surface. The task is transparent, humbling, and necessary!

Needless to say and without a doubt, I have a lot of work to do!



If there was ever a man who didn't need a lot of work; who could have written his obituary with honesty and humility, it was my wife's grandfather, A.J.

To borrow a better term, A.J. was a tall tree.

Two years ago, A.J. went home to be with the Lord. The genuine, heartfelt outpouring of affection he received was apparent and well-deserved.

There were two viewings and both were standing room only. It was the same for the memorial service. A.J.'s life had touched numerous others with grace, generosity, and love.

By worldly standards he was a successful businessman. By familial standards, the proud father of five children. But it was by God's standard where A.J. truly shined.

As honest as they come and reliable as the sunrise, A.J. was always there when needed. Whether it was someone short on rent, short on food, short on clothing, or short of a fishing buddy, A.J. could be counted on.

Even though he voluntarily lacked many material things, he never lacked faith. It was the backbone of his life. He openly lived it. Faith was one of A.J.'s life words. It was faith that matured him into a tall tree.



An excellent example of A.J.'s faith was his love and compassion for the weak, neglected, and sick. I firmly believe this was one of his greatest ministries and it was often my joy to share in it with him.

A.J. ministered in many ways but most prominent in my eyes was his music. A.J. loved music. He loved guitars, and banjos, and just about anything with strings on it. And he played most of them fairly well. This was sort of a common hinge we had.

Here I was, an eastsider (that would be a Missouri boy from St. Louis transplanted out west to Kansas City), who just happened to play a few of these stringed things himself. We had a bond almost instantly. I'll never forget some of the conversations we had about "all those funny chords."

Playing music with A.J. and his merry group of gospel bandoliers was a joy I'll never forget. We played every week at local nursing homes and the happiness he handed out was infectious. Everyone loved to hear his plucky banjo and mature, gentle voice. The sounds were not always graceful, but his heart was.

I loved playing music with A.J. This was always our final song.


If someone would've asked him what his life word was, A.J. would have chuckled in his southern Missouri drawl and probably not answered. We all knew he lived by faith. We saw it in everything he did.

Faith is a powerful life word. I have faith but it's not my life word yet. There are too many pieces of my life still under construction. Faith is moving me forward but has yet to mature.

Right now, I'm just a sapling of a tree. Taller faith is obtained through life and trials. I've lived a little. But there are many rings I need to add. A.J. earned his rings through 86 years of life; some good and some bad, but all of them necessary. God just showed me the fruit.

I am forever grateful!



What about you? What is your life word, or words?

How do you wish your obituary to read?

These are tough questions. I know. I feel the same way.

Individuals such as A.J. have entered my life and have greatly influenced the way I look at purpose, people, and faith. These people are my tall trees.

Everyone needs their tall trees. I urge you to nurture these relationships.

Everyone needs their life words. I invite you to discover yours.

When you do, your life changes.

So ask yourself, who are my tall trees and what are my life words? Knowing them should help us grow, change, and mature.

Looking up at our tall trees is inspiring. While discovering our life words can help us plant our own .

Legacies are a big deal. Accountability is eternal.

I see the direction I need to go. The tall trees are above me. Hopefully, I won't get lost in the forest.

In my prayers I search to find the words. As of now, they escape me.

It is my faith moving me forward!


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    • Rob Jundt profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob Jundt 

      6 years ago from Midwest USA


      Thank you so much for your kind comments! When it comes to a daily walk with the Master, and although I fail more often than I care to admit, the tall trees in my life continue to provide shelter from the fallout. Thanks again and have a blessed day!

    • beverlyfaye profile image


      6 years ago

      I enjoyed this hub. Such a nice reminder of the importance of living out our beliefs. I lost my grandfather this fall and it was such a pleasure to see the lives that he had touched and to hear the words he was remembered by. He lived what he believed without hypocrisy. These are the lives that stretch us and awaken the desire to walk in their footsteps -- to grow as tall, as you wrote.

    • Rob Jundt profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob Jundt 

      7 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thank you for such nice comments. Too often I fail in remembering the tall trees in my life. It is an area of weakness, one of many I might add, that needs addressing. In the end, though, it is our actions that will develop our own tree and how others look at, or up to, it.

    • SimpleGiftsofLove profile image


      7 years ago from Colorado

      Really inspiring...and a good reminder to pay attention to how we live....Glad I came across it today!

    • Lor's Stories profile image

      Lor's Stories 

      8 years ago from Central New Jersey

      I know a lot of tall trees. I am only a sapling, so I hide in their shadows.

    • Rob Jundt profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob Jundt 

      9 years ago from Midwest USA

      OK. Here I am again neglecting such fine responses here. Can someone grab a paddle? Please? Anyway, I do greatly appreciate everyone who has commented here. And in some small way hope that A.J.'s, as well as many other fine saints' lives, can be a blessing. Blessings to all!!

    • frogyfish profile image


      9 years ago from Central United States of America

      What a wonderful tribute to AJ and such true and mighty words.

      Our 'making rings' assignment continues through storm or sunshine...years and tears. What an assignment...

      Thank you for writing this hub.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      10 years ago from Wisconsin

      You brought tears to my eyes and a need to look a little further. Thanks for the assignment.

    • Rob Jundt profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob Jundt 

      10 years ago from Midwest USA

      How terrible of me to not acknowledge the fine comments here. I am truly bad and should be hub spanked.

      Thanks to everybody. You're all great!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      10 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      I smiled at the assignment that was asked of you. Once, we were asked to write a eulogy of how we want to be remembered. It was daunting. But it made us truly pause and reflect. Thank you for sharing this hub. It made me pause and reflect some more :)

    • marisuewrites profile image


      10 years ago from USA

      I had many tall trees in my life and do now. Wow, what an inspiring piece, thank you!!

      Makes one think, would our own words about our life be full of wudda cudda shudda, apologies, or love and joy? Hmm...everyday is the first day of the rest of your life...remember those words?

      thanks again, but it left me somber. That's good, tho. Good to think...

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      10 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Beautiful and inspiring hub. I love the tall tree metaphor.

      It just occurred to me that this wonderful tribute to A.J. is so appropriate to Father's Day coming up. I will be thinking of him and the fathers I have known.

      Best regards, S.

    • MM Del Rosario profile image

      MM Del Rosario 

      10 years ago from NSW, Australia

      thanks for this inspiring hub....looking forward to reading more of your hubs...

    • SweetiePie profile image


      10 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Climbing a tall tree as a child was always fun. Nice hub.

    • C.S.Alexis profile image


      10 years ago from NW Indiana

      Rob this hub touched gently in places I cherish. I feel AJ would be moved as well. Thank you for sharing.

    • Karen Ellis profile image

      Karen Ellis 

      10 years ago from Central Oregon

      What a great story and a great man.

      I think I would like my obituary to read: She finally found her path, and followed it. The rest is between her and God.

    • Rob Jundt profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob Jundt 

      10 years ago from Midwest USA

      I'm glad A.J.'s story has more life to give. Thanks for all your continuing kind words.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 

      10 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Rob, what a wonderful hub! My grandfather who passed last November was indeed a "tall tree." He did so much for so many. While he died less than a month from 94, he was delivering "Meals on Wheels" until he was 92. A drycleaner by trade, he and my grandmother did not have a lot of money. Nonetheless, for almost 60 years, he drycleaned all of the area rugs and runners at the church for free - while also pledging a generous amount each year. I hope to be half the person he was. I wrote part of his obituary last year. I couldn't come close to describing what he meant to me and to others. The Lord knows.

    • Woody Marx profile image

      Woody Marx 

      10 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Sensitive and thoughtful. Thanks.

    • secondsamuel profile image


      10 years ago from Seneca SC

      Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine,

      let it glow through the darkness where my Savior you will find

      Make your little light to be bright

      Don't let it be shadowed by your sins

      Open your heart to what's right

      And let my Jesus inter in

      THen let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

      Thanks for the words of truth Rob. I will be keeping an eye on your hubs


    • Chef Jeff profile image

      Chef Jeff 

      10 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

      That would a great legacy for any human being.  It reminds of Dr. Steven Covey's writings & inspirational tapes, which I listen too very often.  Great hub!

    • Rob Jundt profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob Jundt 

      10 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thanks again. I hope to grow more each day. It's a journey.

    • In The Doghouse profile image

      In The Doghouse 

      10 years ago from California


      May we all become "Righteous Trees" unto the Lord. Great Hub!

    • Rob Jundt profile imageAUTHOR

      Rob Jundt 

      10 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thanks everyone for all your kind comments. I appreciate each one. -- What started out as a different topic morphed into this hub. As we each seek direction in life, it's vital to have a few qualities (life words) to aspire to. As the templar knight says in the Indiana Jones Last Crusade film, "let us choose wisely."

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 

      10 years ago from Connecticut

      Wonderful and inspiring hub, Rob. I have been thinking about my life "theme" a bit lately, which I think is about the same as a life "word." Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • Wbisbill profile image


      10 years ago from Tennessee USA

      Thanks so much for this insightful hub.

      LIFE BETWEEN THE “DASH”I read of a man who stood to speakat the funeral of a friend.He referred to the dates on her tombstonefrom the the end.

      He noted that first came her date of birthand spoke the following date with tears,but he said what mattered most of allwas the “dash” between those years. (1934 -1998)

      For that dash represents all the timethat she spent alive on earth...and now only those who loved herknow 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 loveand how we spend our “dash”.

    • solarshingles profile image


      10 years ago from london

      Dear Job,

      You've got me in a bit 'lower moment', and that wonderful inspirational and motivational hub of yours, immediately switched my mental mood and feelings to brighter side!

      Thank you for all positive energy you put into this 'deep' hub, full of light!


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