I haven’t written here in awhile because sometimes I let the daily concerns of life take over my muse. I have always been a worrier, an old soul, and well, just too sensitive for my own good. You see, my mother is aging rapidly and I can’t bear to imagine my life without her. A very special woman recently asked me what my mother is like. After I listed all her incredible traits and selfless ways, she exhaled slowly and said, “Yes, I am feeling her strong light. It’s the same light I see in you. Even though you and your mother are very different people, she has bestowed her light on your life; the very thing that keeps you out of the darkness. In fact, you told me that no matter how hard things were for you in your life, it’s that positive light that shot you above the fray at any moment in time.” This woman helped me see that my mother’s legacy will remain in me forever; and that when she leaves this earth, her light will always show me the way.
Then I got to thinking about my own legacy. What will I leave to those who go on without me? Proudly, I look back on 36 years of devoting my life to educating America’s children. The first thing I see is my dedication. I never gave up on a child. Ever. Even the most difficult child had something to teach me; and I hope, vice-versa. The second thing I see is my passion for life. Because I live each moment to its fullest, I like to think that enthusiasm rubbed off on a few people in my sphere. So many memories flood my mind of the times I laughed and created new ways to see the world with my students. Thirdly, I am most proud of what my fourth graders wrote in their end-of-the-year essays, those papers I cherish. A few reoccurring sentences sum up what I meant to leave the children each and every year that I taught: “Mrs. Kato taught me the importance of education. Only an education can open the doors of possibilities.” (I drummed those words into their pretty little heads until they memorized them.) I never had my own children, but I will never forget the children who were sent to be in my life, if only for a season.
I believe it’s important for every human being to ascertain their meaning in this life. We only have one, and there are no rehearsals. Any action, large or small, that you have created in this life to do something kind for someone else is a huge legacy to leave your children, who will in turn, leave for mankind. I also believe that one sacred aspect of aging is the ability to look back on a life well-lived and not regret the mistakes. Every part of one’s life adds up to the greater picture: what makes you an individual, like no one else. I guess what I’m asking is, “Have you thought about your legacy?”