New Castle News

February 21, 2013

Tim Kolodziej: How will you remember me when I’m gone?

Tim Kolodziej
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Legacy.

We’re all creating one by the day.

And we’ll all leave one eventually.

So, how do you want to be remembered?

I mean, when it’s your time to leave this earth, how will those in the community reflect on your achievements?

Will you be thought of as ...

•A tireless worker?

•A talented jack of all trades?

•A whiz on the computer?

•One of the funniest people we’ve ever been around?

•A really nice guy?

•A great friend?

•A good husband?

•A devoted mother?

•The winningest coach at (pick a sport)?

•A dedicated volunteer at church?

All of the above?

Or other.

Aw, it really doesn’t matter anyway.

“I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” — Bill Cosby


That word has been on my mind as the Paterno family has set out to undo the Freeh Report, which accused legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno of being aware that Jerry Sandusky sexually abused boys through the years.

During an interview on the “Katie Couric Show,” Paterno’s daughter, Mary Kay Hort, said the family is speaking out now because it’s the “right thing to do.”

“My dad was all about honesty, integrity, commitment and hard work,” Hort said.

The Paternos, it appears, simply want to restore Joe’s legacy.

Two questions immediately popped into my mind:

1) Isn’t it good enough that the family — and probably anyone who played for him — remember Joe in a noble way? I mean, who really cares what I or some lady in Frogspit, Idaho, think about him?

2) What, exactly, was Paterno’s legacy around the nation before November 2011, when Sandusky was arrested and charged?

•Would he have been remembered as the winningest football coach in Division I history?

•A man who cared as much about academics as he did football?

•A man who loved his university and community and emptied his wallet often to prove it?

•A legend worthy of a statue at Beaver Stadium?

•Or a sanctimonious know-it-all who ran from previous rivalries and ruined Eastern football?

•Or an old curmudgeon who stayed at Penn State for far too long after the game had passed him by?

•Or a “phony” who played the corrupt NCAA system like any other coach?

Was Joe all of the above?

Or other.

Aw, it really doesn’t matter anyway.

Envy = I must be LIKE you to be happy. People Pleasing = I must be LIKED by you to be happy.

We’ve got to stop letting others define us.

We’ve got to stop worrying about our legacy and, instead, simply focus on the joy of the journey.

Let’s not do things for the applause of men. Let’s do them because we have a passion, a gift, and we’ve been created to be part of a much bigger story.

In other words, live present. Play present. Accept each moment that passes our way as a blessing from above.

Then leave it up to the guys at ESPN or the boys at the barbershop to define our legacy.

Really, should I be concerned that you will remember me as a good father? It doesn’t matter. If my son and daughter think so, that’s good enough for me.

Will you remember me as a good husband? If my wife thinks so, that’s good enough for me.

Will you remember me as someone who truly loved, cared and worked hard to make a difference?

Hmm. Walk around a room filled with 10 people and you’re likely to get 10 different answers.

But I’ve got three simple words for those 10 different responses.

I. Don’t. Care.

I’ll admit it. I used to care what you thought of me. Way, way too much, to be exact.

It’s taken me awhile, but I’ve finally learned that a synonym for the word legacy is simply “opinion.”

And opinions change. Daily. Dramatically.

And opinions are way too dependent on circumstances.

Therefore, another phrase for legacy could be, “what have you done for me lately?”

Did a decision of mine benefit you? Or did I make you angry? Did you hear about me on Fox News? Or on CNN? Did you deal with me before your first cup of coffee? Or after?

Be careful how you answer.

My legacy depends on it.