Awareness of our mortality brings discomfort. We cannot control our ultimate fate. Knowledge of it can stimulate us to use the time we have while here in a more focused and constructive manner. Thinking about the legacy we leave when we culminate this life, we can effectively live more wisely.
Our good friend Al-316 and I shall share what each of us think our individual legacy should be, why, and how to achieve it. We welcome those who feel comfortable sharing what they want their legacy to be, why, and how they plan to make it happen. This can be an opportunity to learn from each other what is of value in life. It is also a chance to raise awareness of the multiplicity of good values to pursue with each of our time remaining.
Al-316: My life is shaped by the inheritance of strong and good values from my father, mother, and aunt who raised my brothers and me . It is also formed by the transmission of values learned from my first and second wife, my children and various life experiences, individual and collective. What I inherited and learned I wish to pass on as the legacy to my survivors.
My legacy began with values from my father. He died when I was six. I fondly recall our time together. He was patient and thoughtful toward me, my mom, and my brothers. I treasure those memories so much that I conduct my family life in my father's way. His legacy of values shaped my values and adult behavior.
My mother died when I was twelve. My memories of her are of mostly sickness and drinking. She had cancer and drank to ease the pain.
I remember stealing a small toy rubber lizard from a drug store. Mom made me return it to the store manager with a confession and apology. Despite Mom's illness she taught me honesty, kindness; and that you reap what you sow.
Just months before her passing, she arranged for my brothers and me to attend a summer Bible camp. There I learned how to be a Christian.
This experience taught me humility and inner conviction.
After she died, my aunt raised my brothers and me until her demise. She held us accountable for each minute of our time and every penny in our pocket. Her legacy to me was there is value in paying attention to detail.
Other life lessons she taught us were that a poor man has as much value as a rich one. A black man is as honorable as a white one. The unschooled are as smart as those with college degrees. It is important to help those less fortunate than you.
I was influenced by the Boy Scouts. They taught me about character traits and nature.
The U.S. Army revealed that we are all the same. There is great value in team work.
My ex-wife taught me that some women can't be trusted event though you love them.
My current wife of 34+ years shows me daily that true love and happiness can be found.
I strive for my legacy to be this, The values I inherited and learned from family, organizations, and institutions will live on through the good deeds of those I influenced in life. Their life values and accomplishments will be my legacy.
As life unfolds, so does my legacy.
Enoch: In search of a common thread to those things done of value in life I see this. As a son, brother, extended family member, husband, father, grandfather, CEO, Rabbi, Chaplain: where I have done well, it is because I acted in a manner that partially answers a very important question.
In Beresheet: Arbah; Teyshah (Genesis: Four; Nine) it is written: "And the L-rd said unto Cain: Where is your brother?" And he said, "I know not: am I my brother's keeper?"
It has been observed by Biblical commentators that the whole rest of Scripture can be understood as a deliberate attempt to answer this very question. Are we the keepers of all members of our family of humanity?
Where I have succeeded in life, it is because I was able to be there for those who needed me, in the way they wanted and needed me to be. To love my family. To provide for them, to acculturate them, to make their lives fuller, richer: more humane.
The most lasting things I achieved ended as I was giving them. Giving my children a base in life from which to sink roots and live well. Providing for the needs of my wife, children and grandchildren. Creating jobs and shareholder returns by founding and running my own company which met and exceeded customer needs and expectations as President and CEO. Pastoring the spiritual and other needs of Congregants. Transmitting values well worth preserving and engaging in life. Helping those culminating this life in peace, dignity, grace and style.
I strive to live a life of service to as many members of our family of humanity as possible, that I may be my brother's keeper.
The legacy that lasts isn't about me. It is about those with whom I interact, and those who succeed us all.
What do you want to be your legacy? Why? How will you attain it?