Purpose, Honor and Legacy

Misc Pics from March - May 2008 152At 73, my mother died last month after a battle with Alzheimer’s. However, when my mother was alive, she was really alive.

She was a giver and always moving and she was a great mother. She invested in the lives of her children, took us to events, encouraged us to pursue our dreams and congratulated us when we did well. She led others with enthusiasm, she had a smile a mile wide, beautiful blue eyes and she had an unusually positive outlook on life. She plowed new ground in terms of race relations, she participated in the life of her community and because of her involvement in business, she was a role model for many females in the area. She led a very active, full life.

At the funeral for my mother, my siblings and I stood in a reception line for nearly one hour straight and shook the hands of those that had come to honor her life. We must have spoken to 200 people in that line. Tears welled up in my eyes as I peered out the doorway and saw the line stretching out the portico and all the way around the corner.

In that reception line I heard some wonderfully comforting words of honor for my Mom. Looking back two comments stand out from all the others.

  • One was from a younger woman I did not know, who said, “I know you don’t know me, but I knew your Mom…and she had a great impact on my life.”
  • Another comment was sent via a note from one of her classmates at LSU that said that her friendship with my mother “was one of the great experiences of her life.”

What more can you say?

So, after a truly honoring funeral, words of encouragement and devotion heaped on my mother’s memory, I wonder….what will survive me? What will my funeral be like. What will be my legacy; what will be your legacy?

  • What impact will you have on those you leave behind?
  • Will your legacy last more than the shortness of your life?
  • Will others say that knowing you was one of the “greatest experiences” of their life?
  • Will you have “added to” instead of “taken from” the community around you?
  • Will you have cared for those with less?
  • Will you have stood for something important?

We’ll all have to think about that. It may take years for me to process what all this means for me. I do know one thing. Our hearts must be open for this kind of impact to occur. When our hearts are open we can be about something bigger and greater than ourselves. As I recently learned at a men’s conference, “we all have a part to play in God’s epic story of redemption”. Let’s take some time this week to examine the kind of legacy we are leaving to the world around us. If we do it right our reception line might circle the block as well!

2 comments On Purpose, Honor and Legacy

  • Bill–The purity of your mother’s life and legacy is sharply juxtaposed with the item I last read before turning to your blog entry. That story was about the emerging news that some scientists have conspired to fraudulently advance the idea of anthropognenic global warming. Here are men of science knowingly creating a crisis to advance some hidden agenda. The accompanying commentary was striking:

    “So, we can’t trust science to give us data uncorrupted by agendas. We can’t trust the press to give us news uncorrupted by agendas. We can’t trust the government to do much of anything, purely out of service to America. We can’t trust the schools to actually teach our children the basics. Who can we trust?

    Perhaps it is down to trusting ourselves as much as we dare, and trusting God even more, in the end. As our good pope, Benedict has said:

    Only the Word of God is the foundation of all reality, it is as stable as the heavens and more than the heavens, it is reality.”

    You are right, we need, collectively, to renew our faith in God and lead our lives with a view to what we leave for our children.

  • Bill,

    What an amazing blessing your Mother was to so many. This must make you so very proud. You have been the same blessing to me my friend! Being in community with you has significantly impacted my life in so many ways. Thanks for your heart, authenticity and encouragement! Just simply being around you is impactful. Your blog gives me reason for pause to reflect and pray on surrendering further to God’s will for my life. This in hopes of having some impact in the lives of people around me.

    Thanks for the thought provoking story!

    God Bless,


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