Leaning over, I told my Dad, “You can die in three to five days, or today.” Holding back my tears and as my words were spoken, I couldn’t help but think about the life he had lived and all he had done for me.
At the funeral, as I carried his casket, I couldn’t help but think about the life I had lived.
Lost and confused, I found myself asking, “What am I living for?”
The answer came from an unexpected source, my mother.
Without pause, she responded, “Live for your legacy”
When first heard, it meant nothing. My dad was dead. But, in time and after reflecting on who my Dad was a man, I couldn’t help but agree.
You see, what we accomplish as individuals during our life is not just about what we have obtained when we are alive. It’s not about the way we look, the house we live in, the cars we drive, the vacations we take, or even about the money we deposit in the bank. It’s not about the prestige that others see, or, the image that we hold in our community.
Our legacy is about what we have accomplished as individuals when we look deep into our core values. No, my Dad was not wealthy, he was not famous. To many, he would not be remembered as a pillar of the community or even remembered. After all, by secular measures, he was an average man. However, what he did do was create a legacy. He was the one that started a grade school football team and gave young boys an opportunity to put on pads and emulate the men they saw on Sunday. He was the man that started a reading program to help those struggling to learn. He was the one that worked hard to provide for a wife and a family of five children. He was the man that stayed married despite disagreements and hardships.
What I learned through my father’s death (and my mother’s insight) was simple – perhaps I should focus less on what I think is important and focus more on what I know is important. Perhaps I should think more about the legacy I am creating, more about the choices I make and living my value one choice at a time.
Perhaps a lesson for all of us.