It’s been more than 50 years since I was speechless.
And yet I had no words for something I experienced recently.
A friend of mine-one of those people whom I’m not in touch with frequently, but over the years our spirits seem to have melded to allow us to grow and evolve as people and professionals and come together over time--called me last month and said: "I need you to come over on November 20th." I responded, “OK, what are we doing?” Him: “It’s a surprise.” Who doesn't like surprises? I said I'd be there.
I began to think that he’s probably going to ask me to support one of his favorite causes. 'Tis the season, after all. So I emailed him and said “Friend, I need to let you know that I’ve made my charitable gifts this year and I’m not going to be able to support whatever organization you're asking for if this is a request.”
He emailed back, ”It’s not a request."
A week later, I emailed again: “Should I wear a little black dress or jeans?” Him: “Whatever is comfortable.”
Days before the event, I emailed again: “Are we having a séance?” Him: “No.”
Eventually, on November 20 I showed up at his lovely home and found myself sitting down to a beautifully laid table among a group of women only one of whom I knew personally. Right away, my friend said: ‘I’ve called you here to thank you for being in my life and for the impact that you have made on me.’ Then, he proceeded to talk about all 18 women and how each one of us had impacted his life. It was astounding.
And then the kicker.
He told us that he was establishing an endowment at his favorite organization in our honor and that he and his partner were committed to growing this endowment over time. He asked us to name the endowment and to work together to determine the cause which it would support at the large organization where it would be put to work. At one point during his monologue, he said ‘I’ve been listening to Susan’s message for years and I just decided to take this action and do something about it.’ That’s the part where I was speechless.
I hardly even realized that he was ‘hearing my message’ --via social media and my website, I guess? Because he was listening, untold numbers of people in the future, people we’ll never know, will be positively impacted by this generous and thoughtful action that he’s taking. This is the definition of a meaningful and lasting legacy.
We know not how the garden will grow exactly. We only know that when you plant seeds and water them and cultivate the soil, in the future there will be beautiful blossoms to enjoy.