How Do Men Leave a Legacy?

Since I was a little girl, I’ve believed that deaths happen in threes. It seems that whenever one person passes on to their final resting place, two more quickly follow. It’s a silly superstition, I know, but one I’ve never disproved.

When I was 15 or 16 it happened all in the same week. Three deaths of three men who left a very different legacy. The first was the husband of Sue, my grandmother’s good friend. For whatever reason his name escapes me, but I remember he was tall and mean. I would sit quietly in the living room, pretending to watch TV while my grandmother consoled Sue through her most recent encounter with his abuse. She had terrible kids, probably because of their terrible father. When he died, I am almost certain she was relieved.

Then days later the news came. It hit closer to home, it was a tragedy. My younger brother’s uncle committed suicide. He was young, in his late 30’s. He gave up on life, he gave up on himself, he gave up on God. His funeral was heartbreaking. There were so many people there. How could someone with that many loved one’s not know how much he was loved? He died alone, feeling alone. I couldn’t comprehend how he could not understand how important he was in the lives of so many. Especially my little brother. They were buddies, they spent hours together every week, playing games, fishing, throwing the ball. I was baffled.

Then days after that, we heard the news that my Godmother’s husband passed away while he was serving a prison sentence. He was a big man, full of laughter. I didn’t see him often, he was always in and out of prison. But my Godmother always talked about him like he was a saint, I’m certain she was deeply in love with him. He was buried in the state prison cemetery and my Godmother asked me to go with her and her son and granddaughter to give him a small graveside memorial.

The cemetery was small and his grave had not yet been completely filled so a tarp covered it. The chaplain said a few prayers, and my godmother tried to peek under the tarp to see what was under there. She couldn’t afford a personalized headstone, so forever he will be known to the world simply by his prison number. My godmother and her family would miss him, but no one else would ever know who he really was.

A week or so ago my Uncle passed away, he was 64. He had his struggles as a man, but I remember his humor. He was a hard worker who smoked what seemed like 20 packs a day. He taught me how to play poker and he loved his kids.

All these men left a legacy behind and it makes me wonder what kind of legacy men are creating today to leave tomorrow. I’m not sure that men understand the depth of the impact of their lives on those they will eventually leave behind. More so, I’m not sure that men have any clue how they impact those who love them while they are living.

What impact have the men in your life made on you?




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