How Will Your Legacy Be Written? 5 comments


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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5 thoughts on “How Will Your Legacy Be Written?

  • SipzTO

    Interesting timing. I was pondering this very question as I drove back from a funeral today. I knew the person for 19 years. The great thing about chemistry is that you have time to chat while your reaction stirs so I got to know her very well. It was such a completion to hear of her through her son and brother; like Tetris pieces falling into place. Here was a woman that was born during and overcome some of the most trying milestones in communist China. After surviving that, she came to Canada to start fresh cleaning hotel rooms and cooking fried chicken balls to people she couldn’t communicate with.

    Typical iceberg story. Someone who had so much of a legacy of endurance beneath the surface yet presented a bold, beautiful face to the world.

    Her legacy was alive and shared at her funeral today. What happens next? Were her son and brother blowing her memory like a spent dandelion? Will her legacy of hard work, determination and hope endure? Does my writing this preserve her for that little bit longer?

    All around us we are surrounded by history…a grandmother that survived WW2. A cousin whose grandparents survived the residential school system….a colleague that survived the boat journey from Vietnam. Still we are overwhelmed by mediocrity. Crippled by complaints that range from poor WIFI service to celebrity fashion choices.

    Life is fleeting. Surely.

    What are we going to do about it?

    • pcalderone

      I honestly thought this would garner more discussion. And yet…
      To answer some of your questions, your writing does preserve her memory a little while longer. I believe as long as you remember her, she will live on.

      “Still we are overwhelmed by mediocrity.”

      You have touched upon that topic which grates my nerves. The bare minimum has become the norm and we celebrate it as though it was a crowning achievement. It’s why I detest the a-bomb. Why has the mundane become elevated to the extraordinary? It’s the path of least resistance thinking at its finest. I digress.

      “What are we going to do about it?” is a terrific question. The easy answer, in my mind at least, would be “Live to the fullest!” Even that comes across pithy as it lacks any sort of definition. It might be a great separate question. How can you better your life and the lives of those around you, specifically?

      I brought it forth in the last post and I will continue it. I will inform those around me how much I appreciate them and how they have personally affected me for the better.

  • K

    I meant to ask you if you had ever had the chance to talk to Bill the Record Store Guy and tell him how he’d influenced you and your very broad musical tastes. And of course that post got me thinking about whether I’d had a similar impact on any of the people I came across in my many years working the record store gig. It would be pretty cool, I think, to hear from any of them. It seems a small thing, to have had some influence on someone’s music purchases, but I think we both know better, and I would be thrilled to hear that I’d had that effect on any of my customers.

    I try to make a point of telling people when they’ve had some positive affect on my life, from the smallest things like loving the way they laugh or their style of dress to more important (??) things like appreciating how they manage the team that they lead or respecting how they are dealing with some really difficult situation in their life. I don’t know if it changes their lives at all to hear me say these things, but I know for that moment that they feel real and maybe not so small in the world. And it makes them smile.

    Except for Adam Duritz. I told him once after a concert that his words really meant a lot to me and he totally blew me off. Screw that guy.

    • pcalderone

      Adam Duritz can, in the immortal words of Sean Spencer & Burton Guster, “Suck it!” Your confession was worth way more than his casual indifference. It’s his loss.