FOR BETTER OR WORSE

“Hi, what would you like,” the young girl asked.

“Uhhh… the mahi-mahi, blackened, no rice. Just the uhhh,” I stammered.

“Coleslaw?” She kindly helped me along.

“Yeah, that stuff… that I can never remember,” I chuckled and pulled my wallet.

“I think you were my lacrosse coach,” the young lady behind the counter blurted.

I nodded my head trying to recognize her, “Yep, that would make sense.”

We chatted for a few minutes about the days gone by and the fun she had. I realized that the girl was older than she looked based on her graduating in ’08. That means between around ’06 to ’08 I was one of the people that had the opportunity to make a lasting impression on this young person’s life.

Everyone has people in their lives that leave an impression, sometimes a lasting one, for better or worse.

I liked my art teacher in high school. I learned things from him in commercial art class that I still use in business today. Funny that he didn’t like me as much as I did him. He failed me the last semester. I knew it was personal.

We’d moved my senior year in high school and that county required another math credit. My teacher, the girl’s basketball coach, was tough. She had to have been a Tom Girl at some point in her life. She was positive she could knock the wind out of me with a punch to the breadbasket. I knew better. But she was a person of her word; she passed me from her class with a D- after I took that blow without flinching. That woman could punch… not to mention that I still use things she taught me in her class.

Those are the amusing legacy recollections. If you’ve been around here for any amount of time, you already know my dad left a positive and lasting legacy in my life and many people’s lives.

My dad was humble. He never had to dominate a conversation or anybody for any reason. But when he spoke, it was kinda like the commercials from back in the day; “When E F Hutton talks, people listen.” When my dad spoke he had much God given wisdom. It will be nine years this year since he went home to be with the Lord. I’m still learning from the man I called “Pops” in later years. His legacy is alive and his life still has power and purpose.

The amazing thing about investing in the lives of others is the huge dividends that we never count on, but God supplies. So many girls that I’ve coached have gone on to be successful in business and in life as mothers and wives. I’ll still get an occasional message or call now and then from the women who are now in their twenties and thirties to acknowledge the time spent with me and the benefit they got from it.

One of my cherished lacrosse girls.

“I realize now more than ever as a mom that you were coaching us, but what you were really doing was teaching us about life.”

One young women, at Baylor, won an award and her essay was published about her high school lacrosse coach and what she learned from him and how it impacted her life. I was honored. Her cousin, who I also coached, is doing missionary work and sent me a note around Christmas reminding me that I was like a second dad to her.

I put my wallet back in my pocket and grabbed the plastic cup and order number placard when the young lady said, “I remember you always had a cigar in your mouth.”

I cringed… Of all that the young girl could have recalled about her days getting trained like Marines, she remembered that. I hid the hurt within.

“I didn’t smoke them, I just chewed on them,” I explained.

“I know. Do you still do that?”

“No, I haven’t chewed a cigar in probably six or eight years,” I said.

“That’s good,” she smiled.

All of us will leave a legacy. We’re writing the eulogy of our lives that we live out with our actions daily.

We will be remembered for our selfishness or our selflessness. For our pride or humility. For honoring God or ourselves…

There are no do overs… just do betters…