Who truly cares about what you accomplished for yourself when you are dead and gone? It only matters then what you have done and will continue to do for others so that your legacy lives on. It is up to you to MAKE IT HAPPEN and PASS IT ON!
Leaving a Legacy
We have one life to live and we should make the most of it. We have all been trained and conditioned to work hard, play hard and live hard. We have all been conditioned that the American Dream is all about moving up in life and conquering our fears. By no means do I disagree with this notion. However, I (in true form and fashion) must add an extended thought to this notion.
Would it not be grand to live forever and a day? Would it not be grand to have your memories and your life’s work touch the hearts, minds, souls, and spirits of those left behind? As we all know, we will not live forever, and as I have learned in my life, tomorrow is never promised to anyone. When my mother died at a very young age, two weeks before her forty-second birthday, I was merely the age of twenty. I started to think about some of things she taught me, as well as her views on life. My mother had lupus, a deadly, debilitating disease for which there is no current cure. With the onset of her death I became curious about this disease and how it affected the body.
To my disbelief I found out that my mother realized that she had this disease when she was about 20 years old. I believe it was during her pregnancy with me that she discovered the disease; my mother was 21 when she gave birth to me. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease (NIAMS), a 2001 Health Topic paper stated that, “Twenty years ago (from 2001) medical textbooks said that women with lupus should not get pregnant because of the risk to both the mother and the unborn child”. Of course today with the advancements in the medical arena most women could successfully have children if the conditions are right.
The article also stated that, “Your disease (lupus) should be under control or in remission before conception takes place. Getting pregnant when your disease is active could result in a miscarriage, a stillbirth, or serious complication for you (birth mom). The article goes on to say that, «Another 25% may result in premature birth of the infant. Although prematurely presents a danger to the baby, most problems can be successfully treated in the hospital that specializes in caring for premature newborns”.
Some people may ask, what does this have to do with leaving a legacy? Well, my friend, I must tell you everything. One of the last and final conversations with my mother before her death took place walking up several flights of stairs to her third-floor apartment in Oakland, California. I asked my mother why she had refused to move off of the third floor. She replied by saying, «It’s because I like living here and I take one step at a time to get to the top.” I couldn’t argue with that statement; it made total sense to me.
As we were resting on a flight of stairs, my mother turned to me and looked me dead in the eyes. She said in a voice that reflected the heart, compassion, joy, and pain that only a mother could conjure up, “Son, I thank God that He allowed me to live long enough to see my two boys grow up to be a success… and I thank God that this disease is only hereditary in the women side of our family.” It was in that very captivating moment that every life lesson, every ounce of tough love as well as every soft-spoken word of advice snapped into place and prospective for me.
Once we were inside the apartment and after I began cooking her favorite meal at her request, I excused myself to the hallway and phoned my best friend and broke down into deep, sobbing, Earth-shattering tears. My friend asked me what was wrong and I told him that my mother was dying.
No one believed me, including my older brother, family friends, and the doctors. At the end of every important lesson taught to me by my mother as a child, she stated in the same exact voice as she had spoken to me on the stairs, “You need to know, learn and understand this because I will not be here the rest of your life…and you must learn to be your own person and man.”
That day on the on the stairs was the first time I had ever heard my mom speak of having lupus in my 20 years of being alive. Could you imagine knowing that you have an incurable disease that would no doubt take your life one day; and keeping it from your entire family? My mother taught me what it was to be humble, grateful, and thankful. Moreover, she taught me what it was to sacrifice for the greater good and happiness of others. I cannot think of a time that my mother elected to be selfish rather than help someone in need. She always said to me, “Son don’t worry, it will come back to us.” Whether it was visiting the sick, feeding the hungry or lending a helping hand, my mom was there and, of course, we had to be right next to her. She touched and brightened the lives of many people in her lifetime. Everyone who knew her spoke highly of her as a wise, compassionate, caring saint.
We were always told by others growing up how lucky we were to have such a loving mother. My mother would always say to us, “It’s not important what you take with you…it is important what you leave behind; so remember in the end make sure you met all your needs and that you enjoyed some of your wants.”
My mother died having little to show in the way of rich, fancy, material things. Her most valuables heirlooms that she left behind were her life lessons that she taught to her two young boys who had grown into men. Her most valued treasure was the simple fact that she was allowed to live long enough to see her boys become a success.
In the end I would say if you had the opportunity to help inspire others to do and become great things and you elected not to act, then you have failed to live and become the Boss. It’s important to truly stop and think about the many people who have died and sacrificed so that we can stand here today. For as long as history has been told we have wanted to achieve a better life for the next generation to come after us. In sports that have the Hall of Fame and World Record titles. In each and every sport some young athlete aspires to not only meet or match that record, , they want to surpass the record and set their own.
In the business world we have our record holders every young enterprising person wants to imitate and challenge, too. In the field of education we have those who want to teach because they were inspired by their teachers who came before.
As a society and as the Boss we must insure that we build in ways to help give back and create a legacy of hope for the next generations to come. Once again I say, as the Boss we must reinstall the ‘I Can” spirit in the word American Dream. Who truly cares about what you accomplished for yourself when you are dead and gone? It only matters then what you have done and will continue to do for others so that your legacy lives on. It is up to you to MAKE IT HAPPEN and PASS IT ON!