1. Law . a gift of property, esp. personal property, as money, by will; a bequest.
2. anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor: the legacy of ancient Rome.
3. an applicant to or student at a school that was attended by his or her parent.
4. Obsolete . the office, function, or commission of a legate.
I've been thinking about the concept of a "legacy" recently. The name of my new business is Legacy Mixed Media and that decision has led me to an exploration of what "legacy" means to me.
When I looked up the definition this morning, I found that there were meanings I hadn't associated with the word such as number four; obsolete or an applicant. The meaning I most closely relate to is the one expressed in number two as high-lighted above.
Being of an age where I and my peer group are beginning to lose loved ones, has sparked a real interest in the totality of life. Let's face it, losing my mother had the effect of smacking me right in the face with my own mortality! What? You mean people actually die? Lots of soul searching following that major event!
So, what type of legacy did my mother leave behind? And more importantly, what legacy will I be leaving behind for my children? Just before passing, I was alone with my mother and had the difficult task of letting her know that time was limited and the cancer was winning the battle. In that moment, my mother kind of went into a zone and began describing her children to some invisible force in the room with us. My mother was a brilliant, hard working, exacting, humorous opinionated individual. She taught her children a love of music, art, and reading. Because of her example, we learned to be self-reliant and independent. We became leaders in our respective fields rather than followers. She set high expectations for those around her and had no qualms about letting people know if they fell short of those expectations. On that difficult day in my mom's hospital room, as she had her conversation with the unknown entity, I learned just how many ways I had failed to live up to what was expected of me. Don't get me wrong, my mom loved me fiercely and would have died to defend me. But did she respect me? I'm not so sure.
Now in terms of a legacy, I guess this story can be looked at in two different ways. We could say that my mom left a legacy of setting high expectations and being brutally honest when those expectations were not. We could also look at the story as a reflection back on me. Perhaps my mother was letting me know in some weird way that the legacy I was forging for my own children was weak and needed to be strengthened. I don't know which scenario is more significant and the fall-out from my mother's observations is a topic for another day.
I do know that there is nothing I can do at this point to change my mother's opinion of me. What I can control and continue to build is the legacy I leave for my own children. What will your legacy be?