Leaving something behind

The way we act today you would think some people truly believe we will take our possessions with us when we die.  How much value do we place on the material items we acquire over life?  Every once in awhile I take a minute to remember that when we leave this world we leave all of our possessions behind.

A little over a week ago two people I admired died.  The first, Harry Meisel, the coach who started Blue Dolfins died at the age of 87 from brain cancer.  Almost a week later, Roy McConnell and his three sons, were killed by a drunk driver in St. Pete.

Death is an interesting and difficult subject for me to digest.  Everybody views the topic differently and my point isn’t to contemplate how one handles or views death.  This past week I have reflected a lot on everything people have said about Coach Meisel and Roy and his family.  I’m touched by how powerful the impact each individual’s life had on those around them.

Coach Meisel retired a few years after I started swimming for Blue Dolfins.  My memories of him involve him yelling at me for being a Grandma because I didn’t get on the starting block fast enough and yelling at me again after  I disqualified in my first 100 breaststroke when I stopped and turned  around in the middle of the race to see where all the other swimmers were.   I was always prepared to get on the block after that and I never turned around in the middle of the race again…effective wasn’t he?

Coach Meisel left behind something of a legacy with the Blue Dolfins.  The team carries on many of the traditions of hard work, graceful winning and losing, family orientation, and excellence in the pool that Coach Meisel had started.  Coach Meisel was well known in Winter Park and Orlando because he helped shape so many lives through coaching and his  involvement in the community.  Those people in turn will pass that on what they were taught to more people throughout their life and so on.  Much of what I learned from Coach Meisel came from Charlie Rose, my coach, who grew up swimming for Harry Meisel.

Roy McConnell touched lives in a different but no less powerful way.  Through different conversations I would have with him weekly morning runs around UCF my senior year, I learned he wasn’t always the kind-hearted goofy Christian I knew.  With time the Lord helped shape him into a man that loved his wife and sons endlessly and who shared his love of God and life with all those around him.  Although Roy talked my ear off I grew to love the conversations because I always learned so much from him.  I never felt judged for my questions or struggles as a newer Christian.

When I found out Roy and his sons had been killed I felt a light had been blown out too early.  Reading the comments posted on Roy’s Facebook wall from friends and family made me realize that no matter how tragic and sudden these deaths were the McConnell men had already made a large impact on so many lives.

Some people go their entire lives with their head down focused so hard on their small corner of the world…but not Coach Meisel and not the McConnell’s.  I don’t think any of these men thought to themselves, ” I want to leave behind a legacy”, but they did.  The Blue Dolfins family most likely crossed the thousand mark a while ago if you include the swimmers and their families.  I was told hundreds of people showed up for a memorial ride for Roy this past Saturday.  I’m simply touched and inspired.

As I said earlier, people’s comments about the recent deaths have made me think a lot lately about what we leave behind when we die.  Of course we leave behind all of our material possession but these men taught me about the more important things we leave behind…how we impacted those around us.  I don’t have aspirations of hundreds of people remembering me when I pass, that’s not really a goal one should have.  My only hope is that I leave the world a better place than I found it.

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