I read the obituaries from my hometown newspaper everyday now. It's not that I love dwelling on morbidity, it's that as I get older, so do the people I know. Almost every week I see someone I knew, usually friends of my parents or the parents of a friend. It's sad to see the next generation moving on. I feel too young (and insecure) to be losing the companionship and guidance of the older, wiser generation.
As I read, however, I am sometimes struck by the mark some people left behind, by the impact they had on others, by how they changed their corner of the world.
Of course, obituaries are about the least reliable thing in print. You know how people tend to be sainted the moment they die. Everyone who dies “was kind and loving to everyone they met,” “was a perfectionist in all s/he did,” and will be “greatly missed by all.” All! You have no idea how many people you're missing. And is there anyone who didn't fight the disease of their demise either “courageously” or “valiantly”? Which seems to suggest to me that if you want to survive a deadly illness, you should be a whiner. There are no complainers who ever make it to page four.
Anyway, I don't much care what my own obituary says. I just hope my survivors don't put anything insane like, “She was adored by all who knew her.” (Even my own family doesn't likely have the gumption to lie that blatantly on my behalf.) But, I do want to “leave a legacy.” I take that back. We all leave a legacy, whether we intend to or not. I want to leave an amazing legacy.
To be sure, I haven't grown up enough to decide exactly what the creation of an amazing legacy entails. I haven't envisioned exactly what that means. I just know that I don't want my legacy to be just whatever happens to pop up in the remaining 30+ years I hope to spend here. I want it to be deliberate and purposeful and I want it to include more than some housework, some callings, and some hanging out.
Time to create the kind of life that leaves the legacy I'm shooting for.