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Saturday Bike Rides with Bob: A Person's Legacy and Wellbeing

Posted by Joe Antle on July 11, 2021 5:55 PM EDT
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As one approaches retirement years or is in retirement years, the question sometimes comes up, what legacy has the person...

...left for those who follow?

Before we assume that we are all on the same page regarding what is meant by the term "legacy', it would be important to confer with various encyclopedias, wikipedia, and other knowledge sources.  Trust me on this point, there are many definitions for the word "legacy".  For example, leading encyclopedias start with the word meaning inheritance, as in money and things of great value to those it is being left to.  Another spin on the definition of the word legacy is that it relates to important, but dated technology that has value but is not current and may in time become obsolete.  Still others feature material things left behind and things that enable decendents to be accepted to specific universities, social clubs or membership organizations that the decendant may not have been able to earn on their own merit, but the "legacy" enables their admission to occur.

However, for the purpose of this blog, the word legacy has more pertinent meaning when it is attached to "person" as "Personal Legacy".  This makes the connection to living well and fully more relevant and acceptable.  And the definition and its source that I think is the best follows:

Legacy:  www.living-on-purpose.net:  "Your personal legacy is more than simply a statement of how you wish to be remembered after you pass on.  It is something that enriches your life and reveals you and what your life is about to your family, friends, and your community".

So it is in this context that the discussion on the most recent Saturday bike ride with Bob centered.  I introduced the topic by giving some personal background about a very dear person in my life who was beginning to enter what seems like a period of final days.  The passing of this person who will be missed greatly by those who love him as family or friends or even know him casually will leave a metaphorical "hole" in their lives.  

Bob asked me what it was about this person that is so endearing that he would be missed so greatly.  And I said without hesitation it is that he always has put the interests, concerns, and needs of others ahead of his own welfare.  Bob said that this rises to the level of a legacy. meaning that what he leaves behind enriches the lives of others, those in his family, friends, and the general community.  I shared a story that this person's retired life was rich with experiences but financially he had not prepared well for the expenses of retirement, poor health, and a fixed income. 

When I once asked him why he had not prepared since he lived a fairly frugal life, had at one time for over thrity-five years lived rent-free and mortgage-free and lived that way for many years with the benefit of dual incomes, his and his wife's.  Surely he would have been able to save and invest conservatively and still amass a tidy sum, enough to live worry-free in his retirement years from a financial wellbeing perspective. 

His answer to me spoke volumes as to the importance he placed on community, social and emotional wellbeing as being more important to him than money in the short term or preparing for a long financially secure retirement.  His answer was this:  "It always seemed important to me to provide financial help to others who seemed to need the money at the time more than I did, and it was hard for me to say, no I can't help you".

So, his legacy of putting the needs of others ahead of his own and going to great lengths to not put others out is what we will miss.  And it is a quality that he has passed on to others, meaning that it will live on in the acts of kindness that his family, friends, and community connections will do as influenced by his own actions.  His memory leaves tangible benefits and enriched his life by helping others he cared about who were in financial need.  So, his "legacy" will very likely not mean the passing of large sums of money to those he cares for, or membership in an exclusive private club, or technology developments or even basic furniture or his  home he has lived in for fifty years.

Everette's (Pop) "legacy "of putting others first and not being a burden to others will live on in ways that material things could never match, thus enriching the lives of others while he was living and through their acts of kindness and caring for others in his memory.

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