Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Leave a Worthwhile Legacy TODAY!!

Last night, after finishing some everyday and holiday shopping,my wife Luz and I began discussing plans and strategies for the New Year. As we discussed our hopes and dreams for the approaching 12 months, we were careful to end our discussion with the prayerful refrain, "If the Lord wills." A number of recent events involving friends and family have humbled me and made me even more appreciative of life's unpredictability and brevity. One recent event in particular has given me pause to once again take into account that tomorrow is promised to no one.

One of my West Point Classmates, a wonderful woman named Jamie McCloud Perez, passed away on November 29 due to complications brought on by an autoimmune disorder. Jamie was an unforgettable person. Though I had not seen her face to since since my days on the plain at West Point, I had no trouble remembering her and had heard of her great success as an Army Officer and in life in general through e-mails and updates from others. She was a ball of energy, take charge, extremely witty and just generally "squared away". She never backed down from a challenge and had a can-do spirit that saw her through Desert Storm 1 and other challenges as well. When I read the Obituary and memorandum pages dedicated to her I was struck by how much she had crammed in to her too brief life - easily enough outstanding accomplishments for 2 ordinary people.

I don't think Jamie lived a life full of accomplishments for the accolades of others. I believe she did it out a a strong faith that gave her a sense of responsibility and purpose - that life is meant to be lived for today by doing as much good in each day as God can allow one individual to accomplish.

As you might expect, an unexpected passing leaves behind unexpected heartache and unanswerable questions. Jamie leaves behind a loving husband and a 2 and a half year old daughter who will not directly remember the kind of person her mother was or soon understand the legacy her mother left her. Nevertheless, the days will come when through the memories of others, pictures, videos and letters, she will become aware of just how wonderful a foundation was left to her by her mother.

The challenge for those of us who remain is easy to understand and important to reconsider every time a loved one or friend passes: We don't know when our time will come. A few of us will live extended long lives that will cause others to marvel at how we could make it for so long. Many others of us will live reasonably long lives that will see us into the senior years within the bounds of acceptable normalcy. A few of us - hopefully VERY few or none of us - may meet with untimely deaths that seem to leave dreams unfulfilled and missions unaccomplished. Whichever of these circumstances may befall us, let us endeavor to be the kind of people who do not leave the good we can accomplish today undone. Tell your family you love them TODAY. Make that donation to a worthy cause close to your heart TODAY. Kiss your spouse TODAY. Call your folks TODAY. Settle your accounts with the Lord TODAY. If tomorrow comes, do it all over again and keep repeating it until your final TODAY arrives. You may have heard this all before - I have - but the lesson of living for today is a lesson worthy of repetition.

Therefore, my tribute to Jamie's memory will be to follow her example of doing all the good I can and being a blessing to the greatest extent possible today and everyday the Lord gives me. If I am faithful in that task, perhaps I will be able to leave a legacy that someone else may someday find worthy of emulating. That's my desire and my lifelong prayer. What legacy are you trying to leave? Start working on it TODAY. Until next time,


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