LEGACY 15: The Value of Our Quirks, Foibles, Weaknesses and Uniquenesses

(In the initial writing of this, written 5/1/15, I used people’s full names, but here deleted them to maintain their privacy. Otherwise, it is posted as originally written with only minor corrections for clarity and time passage. Geneva Anderson [www.genevaanderson.orgdid go to Las Vegas and was a finalist, but did not win. She passed away this past December, but left a wonderful legacy with stories like “Light the Pink Candle,” which I may share in a future blogpost.

The story of my wife happened the last day of 1998, around 2 p.m. She passed away at 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. Having been a business administration major, and managing the financial aspects of our business, it was almost as if she had planned it that way. I treasure that thought as part of the memory.)

Mostly, we do not get to choose the unique qualities in our makeup that differentiate us from others. We often disparage them, wish them gone, rue their bane in our existence. But sometimes, in our striving for, and reaching, greatness, we are able to capitalize on them and make them truly our own in a powerful way.

I think of Gary S., a member of a networking group I’m in, sharing about the death of a former member before his time in our group, finding out to his horror minutes later that it was the mother of the member, and that she may not have even died. We all felt his pain—we’ve all been there, and are glad when are only watching. I think of Janie V’s eyesight problems that necessitate using a magnifying glass to read up close and require having a driver to travel—yet she has successfully created her thriving own real estate brokerage. I think of Geneva Anderson’s two-decade battle with cancer, her decision a few years back to launch out to become a professional speaker and coach, leading to her second state championship in Toastmasters with a speech about that journey that was both humorous and poignant. (She’s headed to Las Vegas in a few months, hopefully to become the national champion).

We mostly fail to realize how memorable our quirks, foibles, and weaknesses make us to those who know us, and how much they endear us to those whose lives we impact. I think of Joseph B., a successful business coach and Biblical counselor, whom I invited to a men’s prayer breakfast. His 20-minute testimony of his life’s journey included the story of his father’s valor in World War II, which he did not learn of until 2 decades after his father’s death, in the settling of the estate immediately after his mother’s death. He also shared about the success of having funded and founded 2 schools, left them still impacting kids, and embarking on another career—only to be betrayed by having a past accusation of which he was exonerated brought to light, and being forced to resign. He was moved to tears sharing these powerful stories. Of the 10 other men at that breakfast that day besides him and me, 3 of them came up to me, shook my hand, and thanked me for inviting me. One stated that it was one of the most moving times he had seen in the breakfast group, which has been in existence for almost four decades.

And I could tell many other stories like this that have caused me to smile with fond memories.

For me personally, the most memorable is the story of my final interaction with my wife of 25 years, who died suddenly on New Year’s Eve 1998, in a manner that almost seemed eerily planned—she had been a business major and the CFO of our business—a CPA could not have structured it better for uncomplicated tax returns. She had gone into the hospital the first week of December, had already had 6 major operations, been in intensive care the first and last weeks, and was headed into what would prove to be her final operation at 2 pm that day.

Lying on the gurney in the basement beside the elevator of a hospital, with plastic draped over some construction areas adjoining, she said to me, “Get that dog over there.”

I said, “What dog?”

She said, “That dog over there.”

I walked over a few feet, acted like I was doing something, came back and said, “OK. I took care of it,” or something to that effect.

She looked me in the eye and said, “Don’t lie to me, Ken Stewart!”

Stunned, I stood immovable as the elevator doors opened. They took her, and those were her final words to me.

I still laugh when I remember them.

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