Most of us don't get the chance to leave a grand legacy. Few get the opportunity to leave behind the elegant idea that transforms the world or the edifice that endures for centuries. Our sphere of influence is much smaller and we must be content to share with those who travel through life with us. We interact with and influence only a handful of family, a few co-workers, or some small number of people in our town. The chance to pass anything on for posterity manifests in our ability to touch lives that will then reach out to touch others and make their lives better in turn.
My father-in-law passed away over the weekend and I've spent no small amount of time reflecting on what his legacy will be.
He left behind four daughters in four states. Each, in her own way, independent and strong. Each showing the strengths learned early in their life. Each one better for having lived in the household they did, learning the lessons that were made available to them by their parents and processing with one another. All four are now educators and have chosen to make life better for other families. They are very different in many ways but in this one way they share a life of passing on their passions and ideas.
I look at Jim's grandchildren and great-grandchildren and I can feel good about the future of our society. These are good kids, some of them no longer children, who will be the bedrock of our country and culture. When their names show up in the paper it is and it will be for some good thing, something we are proud to share. They have taken on the lessons, some unspoken, of their grandparents. They are respectful, loving and kind and those qualities are enough to see them through and make us proud.
It has long been said that a man is known by the company he keeps. When I look at this family that has taken in four sons-in-law made them a part of that family it is clear to me that Jim left a fine legacy. It will endure longer than any building and touch more lives than he ever dreamed.
Rest in peace, Jim. You've left the world a better place for having been in it. Your daughters have seen to that.