Monday, November 5, 2012

Legacies in the Making

Randie Cunningham at 64 years of ageWe decided to let Grandma have the kid this weekend and the wife and I headed out to find the gravesite of my best friend. Friday was the one year anniversary of his passing. Randie, aka Spankee, was sixty five when he passed away from complications of diabetes and a bad heart.

For the fifteen years or so that I knew him, people who cared about him would get on to him about his eating habits and sedentary lifestyle. On one occasion after leaving a hospital due to a close call, he made us take him to Whataburger. Yeah, we could have said no, but he’s a grown man and we truly thought he would change his ways. Well, I can tell you, he didn’t. He was an only child. He had two half-brothers, but he hardly ever saw them. The one he did see more than the other was “Cowboy.” He always called him his baby brother and talked about how proud of him he was. But on his passing, he had no close immediate family.

Getting all the way out to the cemetery and not finding a grave marker, just made my heart sink. Randie had friends his whole life. At the end of his life, he found out how many of them were true friends. And after, well, he’s not even marked. Randie was cremated and supposedly a marker had been placed in the cemetery, but we never found it. I don’t know the situation with that. I’m not sure I really care. The point is that though Randie touched many lives in his lifetime, he went out silently with no one by his side. For over thirty years, he tended bar, serving drinks to and befriending many a face, but in the end, none of those faces could be found. I’m not blaming anyone. If any was to blamed, I would be the first. But, we get tangled up in our own lives. Our own medical problems, our own trials and tribulations. Doesn’t make it any easier to accept.

Now, I’ve got a wife that is being tested every day by a brain tumor and a child that needs me here in case Mama doesn’t make it. This requires me to take a long hard look at myself. I’m the largest I’ve ever weighed, regardless of how the doctors say I’m in okay health. For a guy my size, you’d think I’d feel worse than I do and already be diagnosed with diabetes, but I’m not. I’m taking that as a sign, that the good Lord is giving me a chance to take the first step. So, I’m slowly making changes in my lifestyle to start losing. Kick the cokes, watch the portions, and start walking a little everyday. Take the baby steps, so I don’t end up crawling and cussing in three weeks. I’ll keep you posted on how that works out.

Going out to see Randie’s grave added to the ever-present shadow of my wife’s health problems makes me think, not just about my health, but also my legacy. It used to be we talked of legacies being what we left our children and the world. Parents would be proud to leave the children with a business or money. Or we strove to cure diseases, right wrongs, or explore the uncharted whilst we were alive. But, I believe differently. I believe that what we leave the world when we die is our children and the lives that we’ve touched around us. My child will go on and touch others. Through her actions, her ways of thinking, her charity towards others, she will be a product of what I’ve taught her. She will then go on to teach others, as well as her children. Thus, they will also be a part of my legacy. In a way, this is how we never die, this is how we are eternal. So, I teach my child to be courteous to others, and treat each stranger with a gentleness, and most of all not to hate. She is my legacy.

And with that in mind, I feel that whether Randie has a grave marker or not, his legacy goes on for all the people that he has touched will have been changed in some small way because of the man that he was.

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