When a Small Legacy Leaves a Lasting Impact

A few weeks ago, I got an email inviting me to Nancy’s memorial.  A year before, I received an email invite to bring Nancy meals as she recovered from cancer treatments.   I met Nancy only a few times through a business transaction.  But she left a small legacy in my home that shall remain:  a stained glass window in my bathroom.

Every morning, I see her legacy as I get out of my shower.  She probably didn’t remember me, and I can barely remember what she looked like.  She was friendly and loved what she did.  We talked about things I don’t remember.  I remember the colors and textures of glass in her shop.  Nancy struggled for with a bad economy in the Austin economy.  Stained glass was a luxury that a lot of builders cut out.  Her work was, and is, beautiful.  I always meant to have her do a piece for the front door.  I put it off for too long for it to become a reality, but I can say that I have a small piece of her art.

When we bought our current house, we had two mortgages so a stained glass window was out of the question.  When we sold our old house (finally!), I began searching for a “better” way to cover our windows as I did not want to shower in full view of our neighbors.  I found Nancy through a web search and decided to invest in a stained glass.  It took several weeks but I was thrilled to have it installed.  Not many people see our master bathroom, so the stained glass is not something viewed very often.  I kinda like that.  Occasionally I stop and really look at it and admire the craftsmanship.

A few weeks ago was such as time.  It made me sad for a long moment when I realized Nancy was no longer here to create such a beautiful thing.  It is also true for every single person who has ever lived.  We all leave some kind of legacy in another’s life.  It may make a great impact, or more often, a small impact. plus it could be negative or positive.  Or maybe like Nancy’s – a moment of joy from time to time to be shared with a few.

Our legacy could be something we do, something we say,  or something we create.   We leave a legacy to our families and friends and, if we are lucky, to a stranger.  We leave a legacy with our time, our talents or our treasures – however you define those things.  The closer we are to someone measures how great a legacy we leave.  So our parents, siblings and teachers are probably the greatest sources of legacies.  But for a moment think about a small one – made at an impressionable moment – that still impacts you… Does it represent a great value in your life?  Does it encourage you to be a better person?

Here are a few of mine:

Joe, the shoe salesman:  A man who sat besides me on my first airplane ride.  He flew a lot so he was kind enough to talk to a young woman in the middle of a panic attack.  I remember that he looks like Heraldo Rivera…the TV anchor from 20/20…  I fly more often now but I still remember his kindness that day.   It reminds me to show kindness to a stranger.

The Kroger couple:  A middle aged couple who come to the Kroger where I worked in Cumming, Georgia every Friday night.  They were always dressed up:  She in a dress and heels and him with dress shirt and tie.  I was working my way through graduate school and trying to make a mortgage too.   He would come through my line first and buy a flower – usually a flower.   It was never more than a dollar.  He was always turn to her and present it with a little flair.  She would always say thank you and smile.   I always enjoyed talking to them.  That is where my value for fresh flowers started.  (I have a budget for fresh cut flowers in my house.)  Before them, I only thought fresh cut flowers were for fancy occasions.  The simplicity and power of a single flower showed me that a little beauty could bring great joy.

Mrs. F:  the wife one of my bosses:  She hosted an elegant dinner party for the law firm that I worked for (one that dealt with aviation disasters ironically).  She was such a gracious host and not at all snobby as I thought she would be – given her zip code.  It showed me that people are more (and sometimes less) than a first impression.

I hope Joe and the Kroger couple and Mrs. F. inspired more people – I am sure they did.






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