Is My Legacy What I Want It To Be?
Written By: Randy Smith
Recently, I had the opportunity, along with my wife, to watch over our two-year-old granddaughter while her mother was in the hospital giving birth to her new sister. This got me thinking about the legacy I am creating with these and other beautiful grandchildren.
But what does legacy mean? As defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it means "anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor: the legacy of ancient Rome."
When I think of someone’s legacy, I look to what impressions we have made on others and what services we will leave behind when we move on from this life. What impact have I made on my own family, in various jobs, with fellow employees, on my reputation, in serving others, with my neighbors, and even those I come in brief contact with?
This has given me a resolve to be watchful with what I do and say so that, when I move on, others can say that I have left an honorable legacy.
Several years ago, I received a call from my mother asking if I would be willing to be a pallbearer at the funeral for her cousin. When she told me who it was, I had never heard of him. She told me that was the problem. He did not have enough friends and family for pallbearers. He had lived a very reclusive and self-centered life, not wanting to do anything for anyone else or caring about how he treated them. His son and daughter had been estranged for several years and really didn’t know him. The pallbearers ended up being me, a few cousins, an uncle, and two others I didn’t know. After this experience, I have often thought about how sad it is not to have enough friends to carry a casket.
leg·a·cy / ˈle-gə-sē / n.
: something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor
In contrast, I have attended funerals for very unassuming individuals that quietly went about their business doing random things for others they came in contact with. They never sought recognition or even acknowledgment for their small acts of encouragement and kindness. When they passed away, it was difficult to find enough room for the many people that wanted to pay their respects and honor them for the legacy of love they left behind.
In both of these cases, there was a legacy created, but one was of selfishness and distrust, where the other was of kindness, love, and respect.
I ponder on what my legacy will be. Am I kind and gracious to others, including family, neighbors, co-workers, the server at the restaurant, the toll booth operator, the flight attendant, or in other words, everyone I come in contact with?
A family friend has a socially handicapped daughter. When she was early in her schooling years, she was struggling with relationships and bullying. I challenged her to just simply smile at others and always find something nice to say to compliment her classmates. After several months, her parents told me that her teachers had sought them out to tell them how much of a difference their daughter had made in the lives of her classmates. When one was sad, she would give them a big smile that would brighten their day. When another was sad, she would tell the girl how much she liked her beautiful dress or hair. These small things, although not a big deal in and of themselves, totally changed the attitudes of those around her. She had become well-loved and appreciated by everyone she knew.
Can I do the same? Do I have respect within my family? What do my co-workers think of me? Will I have enough people to carry my casket?