Last time I wrote about a book of family stories that helped heal a rift between parents and children (The Healing Power of Family Stories, Part One). This week I wanted to show you another special book we had the privilege to be a part of.
Some projects grab us emotionally more than others. This was one of those projects that left me weeping over my keyboard. And that inspired me to try to be a better human.
We were asked to design this tribute book by the daughters of a man with the "highly" unusual name of Highly. Highly Falkner, a dedicated outdoorsman and bike racer, had just celebrated his 60th birthday when he was hit and killed by a drunk driver while on a casual ride near Phoenix. It goes without saying that the manner and timing of his death was devastating to his friends and family. But what struck me about this book was the amazing positive impact this man had on so many people.
Highly's daughters collected stories about him from friends, family members, employees, other and people he had helped. These stories--by turns hilarious and touching--painted a picture of a man who was successful in business, but whose life was more about enjoying than acquiring. He was funny, fearless, and infused those around him with confidence. He adored his wife and children and was friendly to everyone. Every year he traveled out of the country to build homes and facilities for the disadvantaged, on his own dime.
I didn't know Highly personally, but this book made me wish I had. He may not have built an empire, but he built up those around him. He may not have been a famous athlete, but he always tried for a personal best and encouraged others to stretch their limits. He may not have found a cure for cancer, but he made life better for everyone he touched. That, to me, is the definition of a life well-lived.
Near the end of the book is a picture of writing in beach sand that reads, "Live like Highly." I hope this book will have an impact on his family and future generations who didn't know him in person. I know it made an impact on me. I feel privileged to have known Highly, just a little bit, through the stories told about him. Those stories make me want to "live like Highly."