Once we’re dead, does it really matter if we’re remembered? I mean, we’re dead, right? However, judging by how many buildings, bridges, and ballfields are named after others, as well as books that are written about the late, great so and so, it does matter.
Something happened to me last week that made me realize we should think about how we want to be remembered and create memorable moments with others. I’ll tell you my story in a minute, but first my take on how we can create a lasting legacy for the longterm, while living in the short-term.
First, do the right thing. Be known as someone who does the right thing, even when nobody is watching. Say, “Yes” when opportunities to make a difference, connect with people on deeper level, or to give back is presented to you. Don’t be normal and boring, take a chance, get out there, and put yourself out there. Do something wild, crazy, silly, or unique that stands out. Be a role model and share what you know to help others reach their goals.
Now, here’s my story about a person whom I would have otherwise forgotten. I play in several softball leagues and 99% of the time get along well with the umpires. Three weeks ago a fill-in umpire named Dennis “The Menace” made a couple of questionable calls and I let him know about it. He gave me a warning, and I kept my mouth shut at his subsequent bad calls.
The next Saturday I showed up ready to play first base (my regular position) when the coach asked if anyone would be willing to pitch (our regular pitcher was out). I volunteered, even though I had never pitched in a softball game before. Never . . . and we’re talking about 30 years of playing. Guess who the umpire was? Right, the dreaded Dennis “The Menace”.
Even though this same umpire literally cost us the game the previous week, during warm-ups I went up to him and said, “I’ve never pitched in a game before.” He pulled me aside and gave me a couple of helpful hints about how to get the hitters out, and he did this throughout the game. I felt like a couple of close calls went my way, and between innings he gave good advice and offered up praise that built up my confidence.
After the game I helped him clean up the field and he told me, “Kid, you just stretched out your softball career by ten years because you are a good pitcher with the potential to be a great one.” Wow! He called me, “Kid”. More than that, Dennis and I were the last to leave the field and half the time we were together he had his arm around my shoulder and he told me more about how to be a winning pitcher in softball. I drove home elated, and excited about someday switching over to pitcher . . . so I can play into my sixties. Yikes.
On Tuesday I received an e-mail that Dennis had died on Monday. He had terminal cancer and knew he only had days left to live, but chose to spend those days umpiring softball games. I really didn’t known Dennis that well, but I was crushed to hear that he had passed. I feel fortunate to have connected with him on the third-to-last day of his life. I for one will never forget him, and I will remember him fondly.