Living to Leave a Legacy

November 14, 2011 § 4 Comments

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was in the midst of trying to figure out what her role in life is, her place in the world.

I don’t think I’ve ever determined the answer to these questions, with certainty, for myself, let alone be able to suggest to someone else what their destiny might be.

On one hand, it would be easy to get overwhelmed if we are really meant to find a way to stand out amongst the billions of people on the face of the earth.  On the other, George Bailey (played by James Stewart) in It’s A Wonderful Life learned that all the lives of those around him would change without him.

Therefore, I think it’s more worthwhile to consider how we can make our mark closer to home than examine ourselves on the world stage.

We can get great satisfaction out of volunteering in our community. I certainly have in many organizations and my son’s schools over the years.

Are we making special contributions in the workplace, like serving on committees? Are we challenging ourselves on the job itself? If someone were to ask our colleagues about us when we move on to another job, what would they really say?

How do our friends and family view us?

A few weeks ago, Jordan Skidnuk, son of Kathy Skidnuk Stoughton and the late Darrell Skidnuk, reported on Facebook that he’d received word that he is the youngest athlete to represent Canada at the 2012 Boston Marathon. I was really touched by the tribute he made to his dad, in the process.

Darrell, who lost his long bout with cancer in April 2004, was a consummate friend, parent and husband. He gave it his all to everything he participated in. And he was involved in a lot.

Jordan left no doubt about the influence of his father.

“This is a dream come true, I have never worked so hard for something in my life. This one is for you Pops, always with me every step of the way in spirit. Thanks so much to every person that came to watch a race, or encouraged me when I thought that this was impossible.”

As parents, we can hope to achieve nothing greater. I am sure Darrell, who also ran about 20 races, was smiling up there in the sky.

Legacies come in all forms and lengths.

In acknowledging the deaths of long-time community builder Bill Bowes and four teens killed in a car crash in late October, Grande Prairie Mayor Bill Given noted we are all capable of leaving a legacy, regardless of our age.

Mr. Bowes, who died at age 86, was instrumental in the development of the Daily Herald-Tribune, along with his brother, Jim. He was also a well-known Rotarian, instrumental in the success of the 1995 Canada Winter Games, the growth of the Grande Prairie Storm hockey club, and was active in the chamber of commerce.

In 2009, he received the Alberta Order of Excellence.

The four teens were members of the Grande Prairie Composite High football team. Their Warrior team-mate remains in Edmonton hospital with severe injuries.

The outpouring of sympathy and support for the families and the team came from near and far. Their story hit the national news.

Mayor Given noted that, in death, the legacy of the teens is that the community has been forged together stronger.

The bottom line is that whether someone is 15 or 86, they are capable of making a difference – that might be at the neighbourhood level or community wide. Only a handful of people rise to prominence on the national or world stage.

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§ 4 Responses to Living to Leave a Legacy

  • Wendy Peters says:

    Lovely post David. I remember how our entire community of friends, family and neighbours came together to help us out the week after Wayne’s death. Neighbours brought over casseroles, flowers, offered extra beds in their homes for people coming in from out of town for the funeral. There’s nothing like a loss to make you realize the impact (legacy) someone has in your life and in your community.

    Our legacies are the imprint we leave on the world, it’s the smile that Andrea gives to people as they pass by. It’s the encouraging words and conversations you have for every person you connect with on and off line. It’s the volunteer efforts, the kind words and encouragement for our friends, the cheering on of our favourite sports team. All of that becomes part of the fabric of our lives… and is our legacy.

    I think an important thing to note is we have a choice in what kind of legacy we leave as go about our lives. There’s no need to think about death and what people will say at our funerals. Just think about what they’re going to say about you tonight at the dinner table or next week when they remember something that you did for them.

  • kassie wright says:

    Thanx David. Very touching. It inspires us all to go the extra mile for someone else. At the end of the day, we have only ourselves to answer for. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if the mind chatter was nothing more than a standing ovation. Actions speak volumes. Thanx for sharing.
    Stay blessed and continue to live passionately!
    kassie wright

  • Carlajo says:

    One of the most special gifts God has ever given me is the occasional peak at what a difference I can make by just cheerfully going about the mundane and sometimes quite boring daily list. Little things mean so much to people, and to be the one who provides that little thing is more of a blessing to you that it is to them. One of my daughters embarrassed and humbled me when she bragged about my getting up to fix peanut butter toast and hot chocolate for her. I just enjoyed our little ritual, I didn’t know it was so important to her. Like I said, the gift was to me. Who knew it would be that way? What a blessing.

  • Thanks Carla, it is those little things that form the best memories, especially when they come from kids. Wendy is quite right, too. We don’t want our funerals to be where the words of devotion all come out. We won’t hear them anyway. It is much better to have those unsolicited comments, like your own child’s come out as they have. You know, then, that you have made a difference. Thanks for tuning in.

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