What is a legacy?

October 28th, 2017 marks two months since my grandfather passed away. Since then, I’ve been grappling with the inevitability of death. I understand that we all will all eventually die, but I realize now that only means our physical self is gone. Our conceptual self, our true identity and legacy, can live on through the loved ones around you.

My grandfather was a selfless and modest man. He was born in a small village outside of Mumbai in the 1920s, at a time where luxuries we have today, like water and electricity, were scarce. He lived a hard life — his mother died unexpectedly at a young age, leaving him and his siblings behind. He took a job at a local textile mill to earn for his family, but knew he would only advance if he learned English. He studied and dedicatedly worked to continue earning for his family. He married at a very young age and had four children. He gave his hard earned money to his children — sacrificing a comfortable life and instead empowering them to move to America, to achieve their dreams and start families of their own. In the interim, his wife had a stroke and was ill for 20+ years. Everyday he fed her, bathed her, and cared for her well being. He altruistically gave to his loved ones. This kind and caring nature is part of his identity and legacy. He will be remembered and revered for those traits forever.

I have the fondest memories of him as a child. He would make me read the local Chicago newspaper to him every morning and circle every word I didn’t know the meaning of. When I would return from school, I would find the words defined, per the definitions from his iconic British Dictionary. I thought his greatest gift was teaching me the importance of language — which has guided me through life.

However, I know now that his greatest gift was teaching his family how to be a loving brother, husband, father, and grandfather — to give, to sacrifice, and to care for the ones you love, no matter what hardships you face.

It is tough to lose a loved one, but we can do our best to ensure that their legacy and teachings live on through the actions we choose to take.

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