Lately I’ve been considering my lot in life. It’s a past time that I’ve entertained more than once in the last few years. Most of my blogs are recollections of the past, attempts at finding the good lesson in every situation or reliving a moment of personal glory when I was the star of a larger show (… theater of life stuff). Ok, one could surely argue I was more a jester than star, but it’s my blog, hence my vanity’s view will be embraced for the moment. Even the jester has his time in the spot light. Back to the ‘personal glory’ stuff….
As I returned from Phoenix in October I ventured for the very first time into Palm Springs. Since I lived in Phoenix for 16 year nothing about Palm Springs really impressed me. The finer homes and golf courses were all safely behind secured gates and walls, out of the view of commoners and would-be stalkers. As I approached the fabled desert town from the south I came across Bob Hope Drive. I was astonished to discover I wasn’t in Palm Springs yet, but in it’s lowly neighbor, Rancho Mirage.
Most soldiers in the field today know little about Bob Hope, their’s is a world of video games, cell phones, grunge music and internet chatting. Perhaps we shouldn’t have an expectation they recall his significance, afterall, most will never even cross Bob Hope Drive their entire lives.
For me, Bob Hope Drive is about legacy and the older I get the more important my legacy becomes. Remember, your legacy will be memorable to someone, good or bad and you WILL leave one, it is inevitable. Like Bob Hope, I want to leave something that will have a positive impact long after I have passed. For Bob it was his service to the Armed Forces abroad and the idea that their country has not forgotten them.
I took a drive one recent Saturday around Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Somehow I missed doing it in the past (like living in Seattle and never going to the Space Needle, or being from Washington DC and never taking the tour of the White House), I took it for granted it would always be there and I would someday make the trip. I planned the trip and despite poor weather, I kept my date with highway 101! I had a lovely travel companion (who shall remain nameless and faceless), we talked endlessly about life, family, religion and business. I recounted how I started a practice with loved ones some years ago of saying “I love you” as I hugged them goodbye. I made a point of it, no one departed for the evening without hearing it from me.
My father died without ever saying those words to me. I determined (sometime during the late 80’s) to make sure those I loved most would hear me say it. The lesson proved itself on January 3, 1994. January 1st, 1994 was the last time I saw my step-father of 23 years alive. We’d had a nice evening over dinner, he, my mom and my first wife. At the time of mom and John (that’s his name) leaving I went up to him and gave him a big hug and looked him in the eye saying “I love you dad.” He didn’t return the sentiment and muttered something sarcastic (not mean spirited though) to avoid using the words or really acknowledging what I’d said. I was good with saying it to him, he knew that I loved him…. two days later at 9:30 AM he died suddenly while at home. I was the last to see him alive besides my mother.
(While in Phoenix in October I wrote about this subject briefly as I detailed my near miss with death via a head-on collision. You can find the blog in my Highlighted links to the side, it’s entitled “Last time I said ‘I love you'”)
As I discussed this subject on the road trip that Saturday, it dawned on me…I changed my entire family’s conduct by how I applied myself. They all adhere to the practice of saying, “I love you” as they give their final goodbyes for the evening, not just with me but with everyone. Amazing to think I have a legacy now. It never dawned on me until this drive, and this conversation that my extended family is forever better because of something I modeled for them.
Bob Hope Drive is a good reminder that our lives can have a larger impact if we hold to the ‘good path’, and bring solid, timeless values to those we love. What is it you model for those around you?
Thanks for reading this far.