The recent death of a dear friend who my husband and I knew for more than 50 years has turned my thoughts the meaning of leaving a legacy. His sudden death left a big hole in our hearts but we remember him because of how he lived his life. His example was a positive influence for many.
We are left with warm memories of good times that we shared with our friend, his family, and his network. These memories will last for our lifetime. Our lives are richer because we knew this man.
Although he lived in New York City, we travelled regularly to each other’s homes. He loved coming to Canada and we loved going to New York. We laughed together, shared activities, celebrated special holidays, and dined at each other’s tables.
At his funeral a few days ago it was clear that his example as a husband, father, grandfather, friend, colleague, and volunteer affected many people. His career in electrical engineering was celebrated but he was remembered for much more. He loved many people and many people loved him in return. He was generous with his time, talents, and yes, with his money. A big smile greeted everyone he met.
He was never discouraged by recent severe health issues that depleted his energy and restricted his activities, Just days before his death, he was planning his next trip to Canada. He realized that he was living on limited time, yet he chose to stay hopeful about the future.
My friend left a legacy.
Choosing your legacy
Many people dream of leaving a legacy, The legacy might be a bequest to a charity or a gift of money to family members. The legacy might be a memoir or a piece of art. Leaving such a legacy involves having financial means.
Finances may preclude a tangible legacy for many people but a legacy of beautiful memories is something to which everyone can aspire . We can live in a way that creates an example for others. We can love deeply. We can help others. We can share our money, our knowledge, and our time.
Most adults, and especially those of us living the third chapter of life, might consider how the actions and behaviours we demonstrate in our daily lives will influence our legacy. Do we show the generosity by which we want to be remembered? Do we show and tell those who are close to us that we love them? Are we respectful, truthful and kind?
How we conduct ourselves throughout a lifetime creates a powerful legacy. Thinking about what we will leave behind usually involves legal issues like wills or insurance or property. Equally important is every day living including the decisions, words, and actions that fill each hour. The little things do count!
Legacies don’t just happen nor should they be left to chance. A personal vision or mission statement might guide the choices and behaviours that produce a legacy. A legacy gets built by resolving to consciously create a legacy based on personal values and by living these values every day.
My friend left a legacy. He lived intentionally, made wise choices about relationships, work, time, and traditions. He focused on the big picture and left rich memories.
What about you? Are you focused on your big picture? What will be your legacy?