Editor’s Note: The following is based on Glenn’s monologue from April 18, 2017.
Did you ever think about your legacy? I mean, I know dictators do that. Presidents do that. But have you really ever thought about the legacy you are building? What will you leave behind?
None of us are really going to be remembered by a monument. Most of us will never have a book in the library that people go to read. What are the intangible things that you leave behind just because of the way you live your life?
Last night, I sat with my eldest sister Coletta, and we sat around the dining room table for about an hour or so. She’s writing a book. She’s writing a pie book. It’s a recipe book. She said it may just be, you know, for her family, the kids. I am consulting on it, kind of, and I suggested to her one of the last lines. I said, consider this: I remember people because of pies. I remember my grandmother used to make lemon meringue pie for me. Every time, it was just for me. And she would make pie for each of us kids, but she would make a lemon merengue pie for me. Every time I would come to her house, I remember walking in the front door and smelling it. I must have been eight years old. The legacy that she left for me was that lemon merengue pie means, I love you.
What is it that we’re passing on to our friends, our family and our children? For better or for worse, what you do today is building your legacy.
I’m going to tell you about a man that was born in 1942, when the world was in the thick of fighting World War II. He was a teenager when the segregation of American schools was just getting started. He was in his 20s during the heart of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. He worked as a foundry worker — we don’t have foundries really anymore — taking metal and melting it down then pouring that liquid metal into a mold creating new shapes, new tools, new parts.
Foundry workers worked with their hands. They would pour that liquid metal in, and then they would remove that new shape from the mold and they would sand the rough edges. They would scrub the molds and prepare for the next batch. It was hard, honest and old-fashioned work.
This man raised nine children, had five daughters, four sons. It wasn’t easy. It’s not for any of us, especially when you get a divorce — and he had a divorce. He fixed cars on the side just to help keep food on the tables and clothes on the backs of his children. He was a dad that was there. One of his daughters, Debbie, said he always taught her and her sisters that they needed to fend for themselves and not depend on a man to provide for them. She said he was gentle and sweet. One of his sons said he was quiet and always respectful.
Eventually, he retired. His daily trek to the foundry was now replaced with fishing on Lake Erie. His kids had grown. He had 14 grandchildren. Among them, they affectionately called him the “junk man” because he would pick up things off the street and fix them. He would pick up bikes and fix them. He’d go on long walks, usually on the weekends, and carry an empty plastic shopping bag, collecting cans and turning them in for money. Debbie said he didn’t need the extra money, it was just something that he did.
He was 74 years old. His name was Robert Godwin, Sr. He was on one of his long walks this last Sunday afternoon, and he was carrying a plastic bag. He held that empty plastic bag up as if it were a shield in the last moment of his life. I accidentally saw yesterday his shooting by the so-called “Facebook killer.” I’ll never get that image out of my mind. He held that empty bag up as a shield and said, “No, wait, I don’t understand.”
He was carrying that plastic bag, looking for cans along East 93rd Street in Cleveland, when what he had left of his life was cruelly stolen from him and his family. And none of us would ever know his name had it not been for Facebook. He would have just been another guy and a statistic on the streets of Cleveland.
The real tragedy of Robert Godwin, Sr. is that he wasn’t done creating his legacy. He still had a lot left to give to his family. He had just left his son’s home to pick up some basketball equipment and take it to one of his other sons on Easter morning. He wasn’t done creating his legacy.
We pray today for the family of Robert Godwin, Sr. and that the memories he created sustain and comfort them in the days ahead.
Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program: