When Bill attended a funeral for a friend’s mother and two of his good friends were terminally ill, the word “legacy” came to mind. We don’t often think about what we will leave behind—what our own personal legacy is—until we are confronted by our own mortality.
Remember that Tim McGraw song where the character receives a terminal diagnosis? When asked, “How’s it hit you when you get that kind of news? Man, whatcha do?”
He replies, “Someday, I hope you get the chance, to live like you were dyin’.”
We Ask Questions Never Asked
We get hit upside the head by the reality of death within our family or circle of cherished friends. It jolts us.
It also causes us to ask ourselves the difficult questions: Are we the man, the husband, the father and the friend we long to be? Are we modeling appropriate standards to which others might aspire? How are we fulfilling and even reaching beyond our potential and, as a result, laying a solid, durable and lasting foundation? What is our legacy?
We Reshuffle Our Priorities
If you have someone close to you facing a terminal illness, you know what we mean. It stops you in your tracks. Your priorities get scrambled. Things you took for granted aren’t so easy to ignore. Missed opportunities come back into focus. Friendships become more important. Those long-held grudges or barriers suddenly shrink in significance. Life—and the dynamics that make life lively and colorful—become more precious.
The end of someone else’s life impacts our own in profound and unforeseen ways. It causes us to take a harder, closer look at our own lives.
No Need to Wait
Dad, there’s no need to wait to begin examining your relationship with your family. We often just go through the motions and parenting becomes taxi service, clock-watching, jury duty, errand-running, and traffic control. We get so caught up in the mechanics of parenting that we might be overlooking how we’re living our lives—how we are behaving. Is your example one of caressing life … or just coping with life?
Dad, try this exercise. Think about your family … without you. What is your legacy to your children? What impact did you make? How would you describe it? Measure it? Did you leave footprints to follow—big shoes to fill? If you’re not sure, it’s not too late to start shaping your legacy.
As Tim McGraw sings,
“I was finally the husband,
That most the time I wasn’t.
And I became a friend a friend would like to have.
And all of a sudden goin’ fishin’,
Wasn’t such an imposition,
And I went three times that year I lost my Dad.
Well, I finally read the Good Book,
And I took a good long hard look,
At what I’d do if I could do it all again.”