“Do you have to be rich or famous (or dead) to leave a legacy?”
That’s the question at the heart of Legacies aren’t just for Dead People, a self-published guide to life – and making the most of it – from Vancouver-based author Robb Lucy. The answer is, of course, ‘No.’
“When you ask people… in their mind, legacy is all about death and money,” said Lucy. “I’m trying to really lighten that up and make sure it’s not that heavy connotation.”
Legacy is less about finances, Lucy said, and “way more about really enjoying the time now by using your values, your skills, your talents your resources… to make life a lot more meaningful.”
In his book, the author winds through eight chapters – or sections, really, each one its own pillar of Lucy’s thesis. They have charming titles like What’s it all about, Alfie? and Am I the Person My Dog Thinks I Am? It reads like it’s being spoken to you, with enough concrete definitions to make the anecdotal tangible.
The goal is to motivate the reader to make the most out of their life, to define their ‘legacy’ both for themselves and others.
How will others remember you? But also, will I be able to look back on my life and smile with my last breath?
The definition of legacy to Lucy is, he says, something to “connect and enhance you to other people now, but positively affect the lives of people when you’re gone.”
He started thinking about his own legacy – and therefore, considering writing this book – after his wife Kim and him learned they’d never have children, the first in a few unpredictable developments that led him to now. He then helped his father write the senior Lucy’s own book, a look-back on his experiences in World War II.
Father and son turned the veteran’s tale into a published work after a presentation for his granddaughter’s Grade 5 class went below the speaker’s expectations.
“Dad wasn’t a natural storyteller, and stories were what those 10-year-old kids needed to hear,” Lucy writes, in his book’s intro. “Over the next year, Dad and I structured 24 stories; every one had the potential to be a movie.”
In Legacies aren’t just for Dead People, Lucy calls his father’s experiences “heroic” and “story-rich,” and each one was written out by-hand before they went in his book, which was launched at a military museum. In the book, his father included stories of losing his best friend (who died right beside him, Lucy said), of receiving the Military Cross, and of riding as a victor – to “cheering people” – through France, Belgium, and Holland.
“He was a humble and joyful man,” Lucy wrote, “and I could feel the immense pride he felt with his story finally in the hands of friends, family and all who wanted a great read.”
The book became Lucy’s father’s physical legacy – the in-print proof of a life lived, which can be passed down branch-by-branch to any leaf of the family tree.
“They’ve read it and they’re going to read it,” Lucy said last week, of his and his father’s younger family members and future generations. “That’s who great grandpa Lucy was.”
It was after that when Lucy questioned his own legacy, and started sharing his inner conversation with others, as well.
He wants people to ask themselves, What would happen if I were to die today or tomorrow? What would happen to my family and my loved ones, and what would happen to their memory of me?
“I’m trying to make them aware that they do have a whole lot to give,” he said. “Take advantage of yourself and enjoy (it) now while you’re here.”
Lucy notes that meaning doesn’t have to just be stamped with stories, like his father’s was. Your game could be charity, for example, which Lucy says he’s heavily involved with and has encouraged others into, as well.
“Connect to the people that make you happier,” he said.
“It kinda starts an engine in their brain to say, ‘Hey, that is me… Maybe there’s a lot of me that I can use to have some fun and create some legacies.'”
Early in his book, Lucy admits his constant message pushing hasn’t always made him a popular dinner guest, since the response from most people is immediately something like, I’m too busy or I dunno, I haven’t thought about it.
“Even my fellow kayakers started paddling faster,” he writes in his book. “Get rid of the Legacy guy. He’s weird.”
“I was locked into the legacy thing,” he said last week, over the phone. “Money and packaging up your stuff and leaving it behind… I gave it a year or so, and then started interviewing people.”
Of course, he’s used to interviewing. Lucy’s first career was as a journalist, and he worked as one with the CBC Radio before settling in Vancouver and forming his own media company, which he ran for 25 years while also working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
His book is self-published, and now he’s working full-time to get it into the hands of anyone and everyone who’d want it. It’s currently available online and through a couple distributors. Lucy writes a blog for the Huffington Post Canada, where he titles himself The Legacy Guy, and is hoping to work speeches and keynotes into his entrepreneurial press tour.
“I like that dynamic, they’re fun to do,” he said. Last Wednesday, Lucy delivered a legacy-themed presentation at the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation’s annual Autumn Legacy Luncheon.
“It’s interesting to have people just realize that re-thinking and re-shaping their legacy might be worth doing.
“You don’t have to be rich or famous or dead to leave a legacy… You can start now, even with something small.
“Don’t wait to hear it from your eulogist at your funeral.”
Photos: Still-ustrations from Robb Lucy’s self-published new book, ‘Legacies aren’t just for Dead People!’