Recently I was traveling on business and had the unexpected privilege to sit next to a businessman on a flight from Tampa to Baltimore. I intentionally use the word privilege because as we talked throughout the flight he shared a story of his wife who had died in a car accident only three years prior. She was in her early 50s, and her name was Rose. At her funeral, a woman approached him who he did not know, but was insistent that she share her only experience with Rose.
Times Are Tough
The woman told him that times were very difficult for her and her family. They struggled to pay the bills, and had to watch every penny. She had been in the line at the grocery store and had miscalculated the total bill as she placed items in her cart. As the cashier rang up her total she realized she was short of cash, and did not have any way to cover the difference. Rose was behind the woman in line...and immediately handed the necessary money to the cashier to cover the difference.
The woman had seen Rose's obituary and picture in the newspaper and wanted to be there for Rose and her family in some small way.
Please Tell My Boys
Upon hearing this story Rose's husband asked her to please repeat the story, this time with his three sons present. You see, Rose had never shared this story with her family, it was just how she lived her life. He wanted them to hear this story about their Mother's character, and how she could continue to teach them, even when she had gone on ahead.
I sat there next to him watching his eyes well up with tears, knowing the pain of his loss was still very fresh. You see, Rose had died on the way to the airport to pick him up from a business trip, so as we got closer to Baltimore, the memories came rushing back. I thanked him for sharing his story about Rose...and then there were a few moments of silence, as if we were remembering her together even though I had never "met" her. Somehow I felt like I did though.
How About You
Legacies are a complicated issue. We leave them as leaders as well as in our personal lives. I hope that when it's time to talk about my legacy, I will have done at least one thing like Rose. Then I will have really made a difference. What legacy do you want to leave?
I'd love to hear from you.
pic courtesy of LBD