2013 was a year like any other, filled with some highs and lows on my end. One of the lows was the passing of my grandmother during Thanksgiving weekend. I had a chance to go back home to her send off and as with was meeting new family and getting acquainted with old family, the whole experience put me in a very reflective mood.
My grandmother had 7 children, 19 grandchildren and about 30 great-grandchildren at the time of her send off. I was swimming in a sea of aunts, uncles, and cousins during her send-off weekend. Above and beyond that though, she was a well-liked, well-respected woman in the community. During the church service, the building was packed – and the tent we put up outside was full to capacity as well. Typically, during memorials like these there is nothing bad said about the person – even if they were evil incarnate on Earth. In this case however, all the accolades were not only very genuine, but well deserved and appropriate. She was one of those real yet very accepting and wise people who sometimes I think we may be losing a few more of them than we should as time goes by.
It was such a powerful experience to see old family, meet new family and just reconnect with my roots. Having returned, it has got me thinking about one word: legacy.
What kind of legacy do I want to leave behind? What kind of mark do I want to leave here on Terra Firma?
I share this not be facetious, but my grandmother’s send-off was a reminder of the fact that the mark one leaves is often most evident in those who remember that person. Some of the most well-remembered people do leave tough roads to follow, the proverbial big shoes to fill. Sometimes the goal isn’t trying to fill those shoes per se, but to put what one needs from their examples in order to leave their own mark. Many will say that the greatest way to follow a legend is to walk your own road and be firm in your own principles. Guess that was what Steve Young, who ended up being a Hall of Famer himself, did after stepping up when Joe Montana (one of the top Hall of Famers) left.
I suppose that from a spiritual/giving account of things perspective, there will come a time where our merits and missteps get laid out for others to see. Perhaps it is in the “halls of judgment” as some of the religious texts say. Perhaps it is even at the memorial service, because as each attendee reflects, they may be weighing those scales of the person and forming their own judgments during the course of the service.
I’ll never forget attending a funeral during the spring 2013 where the preacher stated clearly:
“Funerals aren’t for the dead. The dead cannot hear the praise or scorn that is heaped upon them. Funerals are for the living – as reminders to seize the moment, to address what needs to be fixed in your life and do it. Because when you die, the time to do so has passed.” (Paraphrased)
So as I move forward into what I feel in a critical stage in my own life course, the term of legacy starts to carry an even deeper level of significance for me. I take solace in the fact that I feel like there is still time to make changes I need to, and am hopeful to build upon existing strengths. Still, I look at those who have passed on before me and feel that time is still of the essence.
What will my legacy be? Time will tell. I hope that yours and mine end up being ones that people who are alive after we transition will reflect upon as favorably as I do with my grandmother and those of her gracious ilk.