Leaving a Legacy

I’ll probably never have children. I’m cutting straight to the honest truth this week. I mean, I think I sort of blew my chances when my marriage ended a few years ago. And I had gotten married at the prime of my life too. Ten years ago I had a lot more hair on my head. Not like Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, though. I’m talking like a little less than Thor in Thor: Ragnarok. You might think it weird that I’m talking in Marvel movies, but that’s only because Avengers: Endgame is coming out soon.

The reason why I’m talking about my lack of progeny is that I got to thinking about my upcoming death. That’s right, I’m dying. Spoiler alert: we’re all dying. Every day we creep closer to the inevitable end of our lives. It’s unavoidable, so it’s worth thinking about. Plus, being all alone in this house (or what I like to call the carcass of my broken marriage) I can’t help sometimes being depressed and thinking about The End.

It’s what we, horror writers, do. We think about The End. It’s only natural. At the end of writing a manuscript, those two little yet very important words mark the closing of a tale. In real life, it’s the same. Our headstones represent those two words. The End.

I asked myself once, while sitting alone in the empty house, what will be my legacy? What will I leave this world once I actually die? According to dictionary.com, there are five definitions for  Legacy. Three of them were boring and didn’t apply to my needs, and one of them was hilarious, but the one that stood out was this: “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.”

If you were wondering, the hilarious one was this: “of or relating to old or outdated computer hardware, software, or data that, while still functional, does not work well with up-to-date systems.” Why is it hilarious, you may ask. I think the same definition could be attributed to people sometimes. Anyway, back to the real focus of my column.

What does that mean? Sure, it could mean inheritance. My father once took me to a storage shed and told me about the stuff he intends to give me when he dies. I told him, “I don’t want to hear about that. That’s just morbid.” Which it was, but that’s what he cared about. That “stuff” is important to him and he wants to make sure it’s taken care of when he passes (he’s still alive if you were wondering… hi dad!). 

For politicians, “legacy” could mean the laws they’ve passed or the service they gave to their country. He served not only in the Vietnam War, but he served as a senator from Arizona from January 1987 until his death in August 2018. No one can deny that he served his country. After his death, there were countless stories about his character. One such account written by Raoul Lowery-Contreras for the website www.thehill.com, had this to say about the senator:

“When one compares the character of John McCain with anyone else, one finds few men who measure up to the senator and the 1,800 days of torture, beatings and broken bones that he, and most other American POWs, suffered at the hands of their North Vietnamese captors. Real men must stand up now to be measured by the standards that Sen. McCain left us as his legacy.”

For writers, it’s pretty obvious what we leave behind: the articles, books, short stories, and other published content. You know, interestingly enough in the paper I edit (The Starke County Leader) I have this feature piece called “Throwback Thursday” where I take a front page from the past and give a summary of what happened. That front page is a small piece some writer’s legacy. That’s what they left behind for us. Now, being in a depressed mood, I realize that my books, articles, even the newspapers I edit won’t really make a difference in the world. A hundred years into the future, I doubt professors are going to be assigning my books as part of his syllabus. I don’t think I’m a terrible writer, but I’m no Stephen King. 

So what exactly should my legacy be and how should I go about leaving it when I pass (I’m thirty-three so I’ve got some time…hopefully)?

Well, there’s another aspect that I haven’t covered yet. I may be a writer, but I’m also a Christian. So, looking on the internet I find this really great article about leaving a legacy in terms of Christianity. It starts by quoting the Bible. 

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,” writes Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7. 

Fighting the good fight. Finishing the race. Keeping the faith. Isn’t that something that you’d want to be remembered for? I don’t want my nieces and nephews, my friends and other family, and others to think anything less of me. “Oh, Jim was nice, but he wasn’t that good at finishing what he started. He surely wasn’t one for standing up for what’s right. He wasn’t even a faithful dude.” That’s not exactly what I want people to say at my funeral.

I guess the point is that when you die, it doesn’t end at the grave. It’s my opinion that I’d rather strive to leave a faithful legacy than one of half-heartedness.

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