Who Will You Meet In Heaven?
Will you already know them or not?
Several years ago a book came on the scene titled, "The Five People You Meet In Heaven." For at least a year it was the impetus of conversations around the office watercooler, at cocktail parties, and among friends and neighbors.
The premise of the book is each of us will meet in the afterlife people who influenced our lives in ways we may or may not be aware of in our lifetimes. Some of them may be the genesis of situations we are born into. Some of them may be the genetic link that gave us the individual characteristics that make us the personalities we either embrace or wrestle with through the years. Some we may know. Some we may have never heard of or imagined.
The conversation that evolves for those who are lucky enough to read this thought-provoking novel usually progresses along the trek that leads to wondering who your "five people" might be. In accordance with my dominant personality traits, I hope at least two of mine are people I have no idea had any influence in my personal history. Just the surprise factor is worth having their identities revealed and learning how they fit into the puzzle of my familial fabric. You know how everybody in the state of Virginia can trace their lineage back to Robert E. Lee? Or think of all the believers in reincarnation who are absolutely positive they were Julius Caesar in a previous life. Learning someone significant in history had a hand in my backstory would be such a trip. Of course the odds are, just like the folks in Virginia and reincarnation advocates, I most likely only crossed historical paths with the town's mail carrier or some deadbeat still wasting away in the county jail.
I'd like to think one of those people I'll meet in Heaven will be a woman I never met in this life. My maternal grandmother died when my mother was nine years old. She only played an early formative role in Mom's life, but the loss of her affected Mom every day of her life.
I've seen some faded, black and white photos. I read some comments about her in a family reunion memory album. Her name was Goldie, which places her in the early 1900s. She died before she was thirty. She never enjoyed indoor plumbing, or electric washers and driers, or refrigerators. She had five children on a coal miner's pay - two sons, my mother, and two more sons. She didn't live to see one of those sons die in World War II. People say my older sister seems to look like her. Where I'm from we say my sister favors her. I'd like to know if I do too, in some way. Her blood runs in my veins and I can't tell you her middle name.
The other four people I'd meet in Heaven might well be obvious choices: a memorable English teacher, an early childhood friend, the boyfriend who got away or almost did, a pastor who preached only one sermon I heard but that I still remember almost word for word.
In the book the five people the protagonist meets all made significant contributions to his life. One he hardly remembered. One or two were the people in his life who meant more to him than the air he breathed every day of his life. One had haunted him.
It's an interesting read, but it is also an interesting concept.
Who might your five be?