How Will Your Legacy Be Written?

Abe VigodaUnless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’re aware that Abe Vigoda finally passed away today. I say finally because, like many others, I believed he’d passed away awhile ago. I never really gave it much thought and assumed the rumors were true. Apparently so did many others as isabevigodadead.com became a very real website. Until today, that is, when the very simple answer was, “Yes.”

From early in his career, he simply wanted to make enough money for his family to live comfortably. He didn’t care about much over the years as he lived his life like the famously paraphrased Mark Twain (mis)quote, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” For those interested, the quote stems from – “James Ross Clemens, a cousin of mine, was seriously ill two or three weeks ago in London, but is well now. The report of my illness grew out of his illness; the report of my death was an exaggeration.” Regardless, he took it all in stride.

Perhaps the constant questioning of his survival irritated him or perhaps he took it all in stride and laughed it off. I don’t know that we’ll ever know. That can’t be the extent of his legacy, can it? What I truly wonder, though, is the nature of one’s legacy. How is it truly built? On words? On deeds? On sentiment? Some combination of all of it? Is it a glimmer of a thought until eventually strengthened in the memory of those we’ve left behind? Do those very same people know their impact on our lives and subsequently how they’re viewed through the filter of our departure? Wouldn’t both lives – theirs and ours – benefit exponentially if we could articulate this sentiment? Consider that a moment.

How would the lives of those around you change if you could state, in the simplest terms, how they left their mark upon you? How they enriched your own life? I think it’s an effort worth indulging.

 

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