Creating a Legacy. Does anyone really know how to plan ahead for this or how to leave one behind? How do you really know if you have succeeded before you pass? Does it just happen organically?
These concepts have been on my mind as of late as I try to choose how to honor my Dear Father’s one-year anniversary of passing. Let me state that my Dad did not intend to “create” a legacy or ever talk about this subject. If anything, I think he hoped to create his proudest accomplishments by being the best father possible, at which he greatly succeeded beyond any of our expectations, as a grandfather as well.
Yet, as I reflect upon his life — his profound impact on friends, family, neighbors, communities; his lifetime of good works; his countless volunteer efforts to various organizations; his ability to stir the room with barrels of laughter; his ability to listen to anyone in need who needed an ear; his leadership through moments of crises; and lastly, his funeral home calling hours last year as hundreds of friends, citizens, family members, community members, co-workers, customers, etc. waited to say one final goodbye while sharing hundreds of stories — I realize what an incredible legacy he left.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always wanted him proud of me. He nourished my overachiever attitude and he and my mother supported my wildest and increasingly bigger dreams as I got older. That meant moving away from our small town and chasing those dreams. I often wonder if I missed many more memories, but each time I tried to move close, job opportunities took me further away.
Last year when he was ill, I also had health issues that brought me back home. I’ve since realized that nothing else would have slowed me down), I am like my dad, I like to be productive from dawn til dusk.
Yet, the health setback was also a gift. I was able to see him everyday during his last few months. We shared stories, laughter and tears. I wouldn’t trade anything for those moments.
He taught me a great deal. “Money is a tool," he would say. Some are good with money and some are not. Some are good at earning it and others are not, but it is always a tool, not an “end all” or a definition of someone’s character or worth. Most importantly, save it for a rainy day and work hard for it.
His biggest lesson for me came the night after the calling hours and reception we had for him after he passed. It was a very long day for the family. It was a day I was dreading, but it turned out to be one of the most uplifting experiences of my life. There were hundreds of stories of how my dear father had extended a hand to a stranger, sold someone their first car, fund-raised, volunteered, made others laugh in moments of sorrow, sang at retirement communities, made new friends throughout the years from all walks of life. There were silly stories, serious stories, visits from fellow Rotarians, politicians from near and far, our honored servicemen and servicewomen, classmates, the list went on and on
I gratefully “ate” the largest piece of Humble Pie that night. Jokingly I said to my Dad in Heaven, “All this time, I wanted you to be proud of me??…Silly, silly, me, I am so amazingly proud of you."
As I gazed at the stars that night, which we liked to do together, I knew I was the daughter of a legacy.
He came to me this past week in a dream that has me rattled still as I fear of letting him go in this physical world. He looked me in the eyes and told me to “Be Brave” as I fiercely cried. I suppose at this juncture in life I do need courage, such loss has me jolted. I find comfort that I may at least find him in my dreams.
As I honor and remember this Magnificent Man on Oct. 2, I thank you (as his daughter) for sharing his lifetime of good works and stories with me this last year.
I’m convinced he is still working above and spreading more light where he can and watching over this town he loved so much. Thank you for reading and remembering a legacy in my eyes, the honorable Kenneth Eugene Isaman. And…for you dad, one more time in The Evening Tribune!
My cup runneth over.
Stephanie L. Isaman