Last Wednesday, the father of a dear friend in Brazil would have celebrated his ninetieth birthday. He died twenty-three years ago, leaving a void in my friend’s life. Maria described her father as a quiet, simple, and observant person who did everything he could for his children. His greatest legacy to her was his kindness towards others less fortunate.
Once, Maria recounted, on the street where they lived, the father of a poor family died. Knowing that the family of the deceased could not afford the burial costs, Maria’s father stopped by at the family’s residence and sent her in to call his widow. He told the woman to bury her husband and send the bill to him for payment.
For Maria this was such a great lesson that, since that incidence, she cannot be indifferent to the suffering of others.
After reading Maria’s story about her father, I thought about my own father’s legacy. In Guyana, Land of Six Peoples, my father’s close friends included blacks, East Indians, Chinese, Portuguese, and people of mixed race like he was. They frequented our home for barbecues on Saturday nights. When, as a British colony, we were occupied by white British soldiers, he even entertained my aunt’s British boyfriends. (For a number of years, my mother’s younger sister lived with us.)
Through my father’s example, I learned to look beyond the differences of our diverse peoples, discerning what we shared in common as individuals.
Interestingly, for both me and Maria, the way our fathers related with people outside of the home determined the way we relate with the world.
What is your father’s enduring legacy? As a father, what will be your enduring legacy to your sons and daughters when you are gone?