In the end, legacy of love will be our greatest wealth

Money makes the world go ‘round. Although it commonly causes greed, anger and tension between groups of people, owning a dollar bill or two makes it quite easy to live comfortably.

When the final days of our lives approach us, it is important to have a reasonable amount of money stashed away. Between funerals, the process of burial or cremation and the loss of income, death is costly. The higher the size of our bank accounts at death, the more money our children inherit from us, which gives them a little bit of financial relief.

Because of these potential benefits, it is crucial to die with a legacy of being able to financially support your family from beyond the grave.

This is exactly what I believed, until I discovered something that proved the contrary: money does not make the world go ‘round after all.

In 1968, my father, Scott McIntyre, was born into a family facing poverty. He lived in a loving environment, alongside his older brother, mother, father and a German Shepherd named Cocoa. Their house was too small for a family of four and a dog, but it was all that his parents could afford as a prison guard and a dry-cleaner. This house was so tiny, that a closet was used as a bedroom for him and his brother to share.

Inspired by his childhood, he decided he did not want his future children to grow up in a house that was not functional. Staying true to his thoughts, my dad worked extremely hard in school.

It paid off. When senior year approached, Northern Michigan University offered him a full-ride scholarship for his academic achievements. He eventually rejected the offer in favor of another school, but the scholarship motivated him even greater to go to college and provide a great life for his future family. He did just that.

Unlike my dad, I was born into a family with a stable income. Mom didn’t need a job, so she stayed home all day while Dad went to work, and I went to a good school.

Life for me was exactly like this until July of 2015, when what the doctors called “the worst case of lymphoma in history” took my father’s life. After being told by a doctor that he was going to die, my dad mainly feared for me, my mom and my brother. All of us recognized the fact that he was the only working parent, meaning that after his death we would have zero source of income.

On top of multiple other emotions, we were all terrified. Does this mean we will live on the streets? How will I afford to go to college? Will be even be able to buy food? These thoughts continuously crossed our minds, only increasing our worries.

Although we all were fearful, my dad was definitely the most terrified. He felt that his sickness would ruin our family, yet when he took his last breath, financial stability was the very last thing that mattered to any of us.

In the past year, my family’s financial stability has decreased. I often catch myself wondering if my dad is up in heaven, feeling guilty for leaving us, even though it was not his fault. This was something I did not want, as I knew he tried his best to fight. I did not love the idea of my dad thinking that we loved him less because he couldn’t support us financially from Heaven.

Just last week, I was assigned a book report. Knowing my dad was an active reader, I asked my mom if we owned a copy of Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly. She nodded, and fetched it for me. When I put my hands on the hardbook cover, I came to a realization. In my hands, I held the very last book my dad ever read. When I thought It couldn’t get any better, I discovered the bookmark on page 62, exactly where he left it.

Emotions instantly rushed into my body, as I thought back to everything my dad had accomplished in his life. I reflected on his intelligence and love for literature. I thought deeply about his passion to keep our family stable. All from discovering a small bookmark on page 62 of Killing Lincoln, I realized that my dad’s legacy has absolutely nothing to do with how much money he owned, how many expensive things he could buy for his loved ones or how many vacations he could afford to take his family on in a single year, but instead it is completely about the love he radiated throughout this world, the passions and aspirations he possessed and the extremely tiny, yet wonderful aspects of his character.

I realized that nobody remembers him as the man who made a lot of money as an engineer, or as the person whose death caused a family to need a new source of income. Instead, everyone remembers him as the kilt-wearing Irishman who loved books and would sacrifice in a heartbeat for his wife and children. To me, he was the stem of intelligence, and he will continue to teach me lessons beyond the grave.

Seeing the bookmark in the exact place my dad left it when he died affected me much more than any sum of cash ever could. Because of this, I will never again say money makes the world go ‘round. When our last breaths are taken and our last words are said, our legacies will have no relation to our wealth, but instead have everything to do with how we show our love for one another.

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