What's Your Legacy?

by Joanie Butman

What will people say about you when you’re gone? An interesting question, and one Rabbi Cohen explores in his new book of the same title. His premise was prompted by a funeral he attended. As he left, he considered the eulogy and wondered what his would sound like. Having faced my own mortality, it’s a question I’ve pondered on more than one occasion and precipitated a conscious decision to change certain things in my life. Without a doubt, when facing your own demise your purpose and priorities change. Trivial matters that once felt so important lose their tyranny over your life – like a clean house or the extra weight that’s been chasing you for years.

I met Rabbi Cohen when he came to my house to speak to a group of women about his book and its message of living more purposefully. As an opener, he asked the group to think for a moment and choose a word that best describes us. It was a challenge for most, as a majority of women instinctively gravitate to the negative. Had it been a male audience, it probably would have been a different dynamic. Regardless, one courageous woman tearfully shared her word: BUSY. She perceived that legacy as a negative, but her peers didn’t because she always seems to have time for others – which, I suppose, is why she’s so busy! It’s a vicious cycle and one to which many can relate. Busy isn’t necessarily bad, but as Thoreau states, “It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”

Rabbi Cohen’s question is an interesting exercise, and one I highly recommend because no one knows their expiration date. If you want to live a more purposeful life, there’s no time like the present. Tomorrow may never come. The recent death of Mary Tyler Moore prompted a flurry of shows and articles about her life and the legacy she left. The youth today can’t relate, but there's an entire generation of women who wanted to BE her – myself included. She DID light the world up with a smile. That’s a legacy which would make anyone proud.

As Christians, it is our purpose to choose to radiate God’s light into a darkened world. We are given a smorgasbord of opportunities every day. You don’t need to be a celebrity to accomplish that goal, nor do you need a degree in theology. You simply need to choose to live a life that radiates God’s love, patience, kindness and mercy.

We lost a beloved member of our community this week. I can’t speak for anyone else, but to me his legacy is one of humility, cheerfulness, kindness, gentleness, spirituality and wisdom. He always greeted me with a welcoming smile as big and bright as Ms. Moore’s, and a warm hug. I was blessed to be part of the same church small group. Mary Tyler Moore may have lit up the screen, but Walt lit up any room he was in.

In Loving Memory


Walt DeTour

December 22, 1962 - February 3, 2017