By Annette Cashatt
“I detest life-insurance agents:
they always argue
that I shall someday die,
which is not so.”—Stephen Butler Leacock
The above quote on life insurance is from humorist and writer Stephen Butler Leacock (1869-1944). Leacock wrote quite a bit in his time, most of it hilarious and much of it inspiring. Life through Leacock’s eyes always had a funny and odd bend to it. At the highlight of his career, he was actually one of the most well-known writers in the world, from Charlottesville to Toronto to London and so on. Today, it would be hard to find many who recognize his name at all though. He did leave one thing behind, however: legacy.
He left books to be post-humorously published. He left a cottage to take care of. He left hundreds of witty quotes to live on after him. He also left a son, Stevie, and a niece. He may have even left some type of life insurance. Not to mention thousands of adoring fans left to carry on. In short, his legacy has always focused on writing, but his writing was always focused on people.
People are perhaps what drives legacies. After all, if we were the last person to ever die, then who would appreciate our life after death? So Leacock’s life made me pause to consider my own legacy. When I pass away, what will I leave behind? There are always bills, of course. Things such as car insurance, motorcycle insurance, finance charges, student loans, etc. I have a little writing published, some humorous, most not so. I have a small collection of snow globes that may bring momentary joy to some child at an “estate” (read: yard sale) someday.
But snow globes are not my legacy!
A legacy is more than just money. It’s not always even tangible, solid stuff. It’s something that you hand down to the rest of the world, something that others can carry on or carry with themselves. I mean yes, leaving a nice life insurance deposit so your relatives can get by financially is a superb idea and keeping the car insurance premiums up to date is always helpful. But it also means your teachings, your laughter, your personality, your dedication, your ideals, your inventions—in essence, your gift to humanity.
I don’t have an answer as to my legacy. I love my family, I recycle, and I try to act through my faith. Perhaps one day I’ll leave a nice sum of life insurance to my family. But I know that I don’t want to leave scars on my family, friends, or the Earth when I die. I know I don’t want to leave hate nor bigotry when I pass. Maybe (probably) I will never be as published as Leacock, but I’m okay with that. Maybe I’ll be a local insurance agent, but that’s okay too. Because whatever job I do, I know my legacy will be far beyond that.