A Heritage of Love Creating a Life of love BY: Troy Murphy |June 2013
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Yesterday, I conversed with a homeless man. Intoxicated and frustrated, he called me vile names. He mocked me, threatened my family, and spat at me. He wore urine stained clothing and had no food in his tummy; he appeared miserable. His meanness, I quickly forgave, knowing his story is deeper and more complex than I could draw from our momentary contact. After nearly two decades of policing a major city, I have learned not to take interactions personally. His physical and mental condition, however, gave me great sorrow. Pain and loneliness were his daily companions.
A few hours after this unpleasant encounter, I was dispatched to the home of an 88-year-old man that passed away during the night. During my time in this house, family and friends continuously flowed through the door, lingered in the room, and said their goodbyes. Over several hours, dozens of friends and relatives flooded the small rooms of his modest home. Over the course of this man’s long life, he built a legacy of love. I felt as if I stood on hallow ground.
Neither the life of this recently deceased father (grandfather and friend) or of the struggling homeless man was formed from a simple act. Their lives were composed of many proceeding days, choices and interactions. Our acts of kindness, or meanness, slowly create our legacy. We build the essence of our being through relationships. Do we hate the world and in return the world hates us, or do we love the world and in return the world loves us? One man died surrounded by friends and family each with cherished memories of closeness; the other, sadly, will most likely die a lonely hermit. His actions to establish importance drives others from his life.
I am ignorant to the independent forces that influenced these two men. What I do know is that the seemingly small paths we take early in life largely determines the paths available later in life. I want to be loved. I want to be surrounded by those I love. I hope my children, friends, and family will gather with warm memories when my journey comes to an end. This is what I want. I must choose daily to actively build a heritage of love. Love is not spread through haphazardly living, but from actively building relationships.