What Legacy Will We Leave?

Recently I overheard a man on the phone talking to a funeral home.  The conversation went something like this:

"My sister died Friday.  No, we weren’t very close. Yeah… it’s a strange story, haven’t seen her in years.  We’re estranged.  Sure.  Now, you need to understand our family is very small so I want to go cheap-cheap, as cheap as possible.  What?  Yes, but they have no money and neither does her Ex.  Uh-huh.  Direct cremation?  I see…  Ok, I’ll think about that and get back with you, I want to go the cheapest route.  Realize though that if we have a memorial there won’t be hardly anyone there."

Somewhat shocking.  We think we’ll live forever.  We won’t.  Someday this body will fail.  What legacy will we leave behind?  Will we be like this woman and leave broken relationships?  Estranged siblings?  A string of failed marriages and layers of hard feelings? 

Or will we leave behind living, glowing pieces of ourselves in the lives of others?  Will people remember us for being:

  • Caring… or Preoccupied?
  • Joyful… or Cranky?
  • Positive… or Cynical?
  • Hospitable… or Closed?
  • Those who listened… or those who talked?
  • Those who shared… or those who hoarded?
  • Interested in others… or interested in our self?

Recently, I spent an evening with my Grandpa at the hospital.  He is recovering well from an illness and should be home soon, but he wanted to remind me about the brevity of life.  To Grandpa, it feels like he was young just days ago; and I know someday when I’m his age time will have seemed to pass in a blink.

Inspirationally, my Grandpa has a legacy of investing his life in others, of being generous and warm-hearted.  Because of the profession he chose (preaching, particularly helping launch small churches), he is not a rich man financially.  But my Grandpa is a rich man in relationships.  I, for one, admire him tremendously.