As I walked through a shower of fall leaves in the early dawn this morning, I heard the last words my mother ever said to me. They were whispered words, barely audible, but the most precious I had ever heard. As I leaned over her sweet lined face, holding her hand to my cheek, with great effort she breathed, “I love you”. She lost consciousness and died soon afterwards. Simple words that we had said to each other every day of my life that I can remember, but in that moment everything crystallized, and nothing existed but me and this woman who loved me more than anyone ever could. How beautiful that after well over ninety-two years of life, she ended with words of love. Her words held immense power and meaning for me, changed me. I thought of those last words, a legacy of love, and I wondered- what will my last words be? What will be my legacy?
So many of us- myself included- rush through the day-to-day of life, focusing on what is in front of us and not so much on the big picture…the really big picture. The whole of your life- what you do, who you are…what will people take from their time with you? Are you making the world a better place to be, or do you add to the cloud of negativity that already has a chokehold on the world? As a teacher, reputation is incredibly important to me. I want to be the kind of person that my students will respect and look up to, one they trust. As a musician, I hope to have the reputation of being a professional, a good colleague, and a strong player. As a human being, I want to be known as someone who is full of love and gratitude, full of wonder for the beauty that is everywhere. Someone who is accepting and open to other ideas, who is a good steward of the planet and its resources, a person of integrity, and a good and loyal friend. I hope to leave people feeling happier for having been around me- just like my mother did- one of her great gifts.
I vow to be more aware of my legacy, to think about what I can do each day to make the world a better place – even in small ways, continuing to focus on nurturing and sharing love and gratitude. I will never be perfect, but what I do matters- what each of us does matters- and I can be a better human being. At least I can try my very best.