24. legacy

(#24 in a series of people who changed the course of my life)

If I am to leave behind anything in this life, let it be that my sons were known by all as men of kindness, strength, compassion, and goodness. That they are regarded as nurturing fathers and loyal partners, true with their word and generous with their hearts. And that they live life with joy, in spite of challenges they will inevitably face.


One concept about heaven I learned years ago from my sons’ mother is that heaven is not some place up in the clouds that we get to after we die. (If we’ve been good enough, of course.) Rather, heaven is something that we’re promised right now—something we get to experience at every moment as we see love unfolded around us. (I would also learn that “hell” is really just an absence of love which I imagine feels like “a burning lake of fire” but probably doesn’t frighten people as much.)

So that concept of heaven–made manifest in the here and now–makes me wonder—why talk about one’s legacy from the viewpoint as an old (ok, much older) man or for after your physical life has expired? Why not enjoy your legacy right now, in the moment, as it is happening right before your eyes.

Because that is exactly what is happening to me. I am getting the chance to watch this once rambunctious pack of boys—brought together by love and bound together by love…

Our little tribe, Christmas 1999...

Our little tribe, Christmas 1999…

…grow into men who are kind, strong, compassionate, and good. (And still a little rambunctious!) And oh—when these boys are together, there is just so much joy. Heck, there’s joy just about wherever they go; their laughter is evidence of it.

Grown up, Christmas 2014

Grown up, Christmas 2014

They have not had the easiest of lives, nor the worst. They’re not all on the same road. They’re still working out their futures and determining the paths they will take with their lives. But I am confident they will find their way. They have such good hearts and will stand one with the other—brothers, true—and with loyalty expand that relationship to include the people each of them loves.

All present for the birth of Keaton Thomas

All present for the birth of Keaton Thomas

It’s really remarkable—I have to tell you—to watch them. To watch one with the woman he loves and their sons…to watch the others diligently welcome them into their tribe. To hear them talking on the phone or texting all the time. To see them take a stand for others.

To see them honor their mother with such affection and respect.

To feel the absolute unconditional love for me and the person I love.

I can hardly express the magnitude of my pride.

After everything they have been through, these four men inspire me every single day to be better, to—in the great irony of life—be like them.

Through these boys-turned-men, I am confident that my legacy is assured. Not because they’re perfect or get everything right.

But because they know love and know how to love. They are kind. They are good.

And the joy watching this living legacy is truly heaven on earth, right now.

Our most recent family picture, pre-Keaton, 2015

Our most recent family picture, pre-Keaton, 2015

25. they took a stand

PS: Happy 22nd birthday, Hayden!

PS: Happy 22nd birthday, Hayden!

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