Mortality and Legacy

Quincy Herald- Whig April 3, 1988

2020 has me thinking about mortality. Death seems all around. Everyday I am reminded of the value of life and being alive. Over the past weeks my life has been touched by death, none related to COVID. All lives cut short.

That is me above in the wreckage of a plane, I was the lucky one, sole survivor of small plane crash that took my parents. Lucky to spend 3 months in a local hospital where my father had worked recovering from broken bones. Lucky to have aches and scares to remind me of the moment of impact. At seventeen my life was rocked. It took time and constant pushing from my loving extended family to realize my survival had meaning. For awhile I asked why I survived, knowing it was due to where I sat in the plane. My parents’ lives were more important in the community being a prominent doctor and education advocate. I was just a high school junior. Why were they gone and me alive? My parents left a legacy on the community of Quincy, IL and with in their 3 children (My two brothers weren’t in the crash). The community celebrated their lives and dedicated a garden in their honor at the community history museum.

Quincy Herald – Whig June 1988 (Me in wheel chair)

Now 32 years later I have constant reminders that life can at any moment can end. Mortality and legacy thoughts fill my brain. How much longer do I have? What will I be remember for? Has my life been worth living or should one of my parents survived? It was only a matter of seating that I survived, what if my mother and I had switched seats?

I live my life focused on making sure it is a life that makes a difference one worth being saved. I have walked down wrong paths sometimes losing sight of this pursuit, getting lost in depressing thoughts or caught up by physical pains. Thankfully my parents memories were captured by the community in a legacy book that has faded over the years. I pull it off the shelf and refresh my focus. Working to pass on my families values and work ethic on to my 3 bright and energetic children.

Recent trip to Mackinaw Island July 2020

My oldest son, Griffin, is approaching the age I was when my parents died (17) and the twins are the same age as my little brother was when they passed (12). What would they do if I was gone? Are they prepared to exist independently? I plan on being around for much longer but these questions persist. What legacy am I leaving them? Am I making sure they have skills and values to reflect our family values?

With recent events I have gotten to spend more time the past 5 months with them than in the past. I get to eat breakfast with them, see how they learn and enjoy movie and game nights. Things that never happened growing up the son of a doctor. My children reflect my wife and me. Ecstatic that they represent my family name in the community. Although these months have been trying at times, when I return to face to face teaching and they return to the classrooms I will miss this quality time together.

Cherish your time with family. Leave a legacy with in your children. Life is short let yours reflect your values.