Leaving a Legacy
My real estate partner, Cyndi, and I were out on a call last Friday checking in with one of our clients. We have her home listed, and we stopped by to give her a market update, and to see how she felt about the process so far. Our client is a very distinguished, African American lady who is now retired. Our client has her doctorate in education, and over her career has taught all levels of public education. She retired as a professor of education from a local university.
It is always a joy to visit with this client, because she is as sharp as a tack, and you are always going to leave her home smarter than you came. Anyway, as we about to leave, my partner was telling our client that she volunteers every Monday at an inner city school. That prompted our client to remark that the school Cyndi helps out at is only a short distance from where she began her teaching career. With that, the following story unfolded…
Our client told of her first day of orientation at the school. It was back in 1956, and the principal had gathered all the teachers together the day before school began and she told all the teachers the following, “You WILL BE HERE EVERYDAY! The only time you can call off is if one of your parents dies, your spouse dies, or one of your children dies. Unless that happens…you will be here every day…just like the bricks that make up this school!”
Our client was taken aback by the principal’s comments. The principal then went on to say, “I want you to look around this neighborhood. The children living here see parents come and go. Parents are on drugs, or in jail. Other parents simply suddenly leave one day. Tons of people have failed them…but you will not fail them! When they look out of their window and see this school, it is the one thing in their life that is a constant. Just like the school always being here, you will be here for them too!”
As our client told this story, a tear started to trickle down her check. She said that what astonished her was the principal was white.
After a couple of weeks, our client worked up the courage to approach the principal and ask her why she cared so much. Our client asked, “You aren’t from around here, you’re not of the same race, you grew up middle class…how did you come to have so much empathy?”
The principal related the following story. She told of her father working in a factory, and how her dad had kept asking her mother to pack him more and more food for his lunch every day. The mother challenged the father how he could possibly eat that much food…and the dad kept telling his wife that he worked really hard on the factory line, and he simply required that much food to keep up his energy. The principal explained that this back and forth exchange kept up year after year…until her father passed away suddenly. Three black men came to her father’s funeral, and approached the principal’s mother…and they told how they had worked at the same factory. They told the wife how her husband had fed them lunch every day since they didn’t have enough money to buy food for their own lunch.
As a parent of 4 children, hearing that story reinforced the tremendous responsibility we have been entrusted. Our children come to us from God with a clean slate. Our children’s behavior later in life will be modeled after what they witnessed growing up under our direction.
Watching toddlers on a playground, you are able to observe that they are colorblind in terms of race. They aren’t concerned with brand names on each other’s clothing. They don’t care where anyone lives, or what their parents do for a living…they just enjoy the companionship of their playmates. Somewhere along the way, that changes. It changes because we taught them those things were important.
I’ll leave you with this…
What a child doesn't receive he can seldom later give. ~P.D. James