Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lessons from a Personal Legacy

Last week my dad’s cousin, Paul, passed away suddenly at the age of fifty-nine. On March 15, he collapsed in his home and spent a week in the hospital. He remained in a coma and never regained consciousness.  During that time, his kids posted regular updates in a blog where they kept family and friends informed about his condition and expressed their gratitude for the outpouring of love and prayers.

Although I never actually met Paul (or if I did I was young enough that I don’t remember), I was saddened to hear his story. I started following the blog the day after he entered the hospital and the words of his family moved and inspired me as they expressed their unwavering faith in God’s plan and celebrated their father’s entrance into the Lord’s kingdom. One recent blog entry includes a series of audio clips from a 2009 estate planning meeting in which Paul completed a personal legacy interview. Knowing that he was a faith-driven man, I was curious to hear his perspective on his greatest challenges, personal fulfillment, and life lessons. Not only was I inspired and encouraged to make greater strides in my own faith journey, but in just 25 short minutes I received a full snapshot of who this man was, what he valued, and what he wanted people to know about him as a person and as a follower of Jesus. Even after his death, his hopes, dreams, and legacy can live on because he took the time to ponder these questions and record his answers.

As I listened, I kept thinking about the beautiful gift this short interview now presents to Paul's children. I am fortunate enough to have my parents alive today, but when I inevitably find myself in the world without them, there is nothing I wouldn’t give to have access to such a recording. I sometimes find myself confronted with the realization that Reese will never remember me if I am torn from her life even in the next few years. Although I don’t like to think about it, the knowledge of that possibility gives me the encouragement to capture as many memories as possible and makes me wonder if I shouldn’t be sitting down across from a recording device every few years to answer questions that she might someday want to hear from my own mouth and my own heart.

In the last question of the interview Paul was asked, “If you knew you had only 30 days to live and health and money weren’t an obstacle, what would you do?” His answer included sharing his testimony of faith with as many people as possible. I’d like to help him do that, so the link to Paul’s interview is below.

I would also like to encourage everyone to ponder that question every day. Don’t think of it as a hypothetical because for some us, it may not be and for all of us, it won’t always be. If you find something in your heart’s desires that you’re not doing today, start doing it. If you’ve been putting off a dream, start chasing it. And if you’ve never made a recording of your personal legacy to leave behind for your children, start thinking about how they will remember you when you’re gone. Never forget that we are all here on borrowed time and tomorrow is not a guarantee. If today is your last day, how will you be remembered? Who will share your legacy? What do you want your kids to know? Write it. Record it. Videotape it. It will be the greatest gift you could give them.

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