Are you living with an eye toward legacy? What is legacy all about anyway?
I think those of us who’ve had a parent die have thought about this word at least a little. And maybe we’ve wondered where it fits into our lives.
The dictionary says legacy is anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor. I think that definition is a little stiff, so let’s unpack it for us down here on Earth.
As we age, we tend to examine our own legacy closer. We think about what we will be leaving behind in and for this world – for the people who come after us.
But lately, I’ve been thinking not of my individual legacy but of my family’s legacy. I guess you could say I’ve become aware of the huge honor of carrying on that legacy for them – for us.
As we reach another Father’s Day, perhaps you, too, are thinking about your role in the family unit and your role in the community of the world.
Maybe you feel out of step with the legacy left for you. Maybe you feel inadequate with the baton. Or maybe you are ready to take it up and run with all your might.
Before I tell you how in the world I recently ended up dealing with the complexity of legacy, let me share three key characteristics of legacy:
- Legacy is expressed through your uniqueness. Those who truly love us would want nothing but for us to be our best selves. Not a copy of them. Be your best you.
- Legacy is for the haves and for the have-nots. You don’t have to be a Roosevelt or a Clinton. The legacy of kindness is more precious than having your name on a building.
- Legacy is grounded in largeness. It is bigger than the individual and bigger than a single act. It asks us to live with vision for purposes beyond our wants and needs.
My epiphany on legacy arrived a month ago. I spent five nights in the home my grandfather built. Dad lived there as a boy. My uncle died in the room I slept in.
I laid down my head smiling, sensing my family all around me. I would be the last Lepeska in Milford. The last Lepeska in the home. And I needed to leave something behind.
I jotted a note on a basement rafter that the Lepeskas had been there. We’d lived, we’d loved, and I alone remained. I signed it and dated it.
I left the note on behalf of my family. It was a simple act of legacy. Leaving a memorial.
The pain I felt ebbed, and beside it, I felt pride. I was holding up the memory of my family. Preserving our name.
I knew I had more to do. For so long, I had not looked at it this way – with a largeness.
My existence is part of their legacy.
I decided I would not squander my opportunities and calling anymore.
I am not alone. I am not an island. I am their survivors. I carry my family – and we have stories to tell. Many stories to tell.
I’d love to hear what ways you nurture the legacy left you by your mother, father or another loved one. Please leave a note in the comments – it may give others fresh ideas about their legacy journey, too.
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