What Legacy Will You Leave?

| | Inspiration

Have you ever been touched deeply by someone you barely knew?

On May 1, 2013 a man named Wally Collins passed away.  A few short years ago I sang at his wedding as he married one of the people I hold most dear, Mary McClean.  They shared a brief, but beautiful love.  It was moving to witness.  Wally fought hard to stay on this earth to be with Mary and his family as long as possible.  He defied the odds over and over right until the end.

As I sat down on Sunday to prepare the songs his family had asked me to sing at his funeral, a very rare thing happened.  You see long ago I played in the occasional coffee house and have even written a few songs.  The last time I was that inspired to write a song was 13 years ago when my daughter was born.  This time I literally had to dust off my guitar to prepare, and as I did inspiration struck.  Within an hour a new song poured out of me.

I had known Wally for only 4 of his 89 years.  He had been quite ill through most of that time which is why I say I barely knew him.  Yet somehow he had touched my life deeply.

As I listened to the stories told by the generations of people whose lives Wally had touched and guided, I was no longer surprised by the deep effect he had on me.  He was clearly the patriarch of his family – a benevolent, loving, and kind servant.  He was clearly a leader who left a remarkable imprint on the lives he touched that can be summed up in one word: love.

He left a legacy in many respects, but the one I want to highlight here is his emotional legacy.  It was the way he made people feel in his presence and about themselves that is perhaps the most important legacy of his life.  It was in the simplest of gestures that he continued to find a way to let those around him know they were loved and that they truly mattered.

Wally demonstrated leadership in simple actions, every day throughout his life.   What legacy will you leave through your actions today?

P.S.  Here is the song I wrote in memory of my friend Wally.  Thank you, Wally, for reminding me that love lives forever.



Enter A Comment

Carl   |   08 May 2013   |   Reply

Susan, thank you for sharing your song and your heart – I’m sure Wally is smiling –

Warm regards,

Susan Mazza   |   08 May 2013   |   Reply

Thank you Carl. I hope he is!

John E. Smith   |   08 May 2013   |   Reply


This is simply lovely and touching. Bless you for giving this family such a powerful gift at a difficult time.


Susan Mazza   |   08 May 2013   |   Reply

Thank you John. I feel blessed to have been touched by this family.

Mike Henry Sr.   |   08 May 2013   |   Reply

Thanks for the post and the song and for sharing them online. You continue to surprise. Mike…

Susan Mazza   |   08 May 2013   |   Reply

Appreciate that Mike. At 2am I admit I was having some second thoughts!

Stan Faryna   |   08 May 2013   |   Reply

Thank you for sharing your song and memory of Wally with us.

Susan Mazza   |   08 May 2013   |   Reply

My pleasure Stan. And thank you for always taking the time to listen!

Joy Guthrie   |   08 May 2013   |   Reply

Thank you for sharing the post & your beautiful song. I’m very sorry for your loss.

Susan Mazza   |   08 May 2013   |   Reply

Thank you for your kind words Joy.

Meredith Bell   |   08 May 2013   |   Reply

Thank you, Susan, for writing and sharing this beautiful, touching song. I found the tears flowing as I thought of how much Wally was like my father, who just died in November. Your words touched my heart on multiple levels.

Susan Mazza   |   08 May 2013   |   Reply

So glad I could help bring the memory of your father present for you Meredith. That is the amazing thing about a legacy of love – it really does live on.

mollypg   |   08 May 2013   |   Reply

WOW! Is there ANYTHING you can’t do? Beautiful voice. Beautiful heart. Thank you giving me a happy cry this morning.

Susan Mazza   |   08 May 2013   |   Reply

Thanks so much for your kind words Molly. I especially like the “happy cry” part!

Terri Klass   |   09 May 2013   |   Reply

You are truly an amazing person and leader, Susan. Your song and your profound words are so inspirational. You are so right that it is our emotional legacy that is most important. Thanks for sharing your beautiful voice too!

Susan Mazza   |   09 May 2013   |   Reply

Thank you so much Terri. Your comment makes me think of a saying: “if you want to be inspiring to others, be inspired by others”.

Jennifer Olney   |   09 May 2013   |   Reply


What a beautiful song and voice. Such a great way to remember Wally.

Susan Mazza   |   09 May 2013   |   Reply

Thanks very much Jen!

Lisa Sawyer   |   09 May 2013   |   Reply

Susan – this is so lovely. Thank you for sharing. It made me think of when my daughter moved away for school. We never said “goodbye” in any form of communication; it was always “bye for now”. I loved learning about and hearing this other side of you.

Susan Mazza   |   14 May 2013   |   Reply

Thank you Lisa. I have a feeling I will also be saying “bye for now” in a few years. A reminder to enjoy the now with my daughter.

Fran McTernan   |   11 May 2013   |   Reply

Susan, how incredibly touching! This is what I aspire to: To lead my life so that when it’s over, someone, somewhere, is inspired like you were about Wally. Simply beautiful, touching, and inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

Susan Mazza   |   14 May 2013   |   Reply

Thank you Fran. We may never know the difference we make in someone’s life. It is likely you already have given the strength of your commitment to making a difference. I am reminded of the importance of letting people know just how much they matter while they are here for both you and them.

skipprichard1   |   04 June 2013   |   Reply

Beautiful song and tribute. This reminds me that all of us can touch others. It’s never too late to make a difference in someone else’s life. Well done.

Susan Mazza   |   04 June 2013   |   Reply

Thanks so much Skip. It really is never too late. I am grateful for the reminder and the inspiration Wally provided.

Todd MacPherson   |   04 June 2013   |   Reply

Thank you so much. A beautiful tribute and a beautiful song.

Susan Mazza   |   03 July 2013   |   Reply

Thanks very much Todd!

Glenn Buesnel-May   |   02 July 2013   |   Reply

Susan, what a wonderful song for such a wonderful person. ‘Legacy’ is a powerful characteristic of the human experience. It is such an intrinsically valuable enabler in our personal and business lives. Personally, ‘legacy’ carries the wonderful emotional capital we often fall back upon when we reminisce or need a mentor’s guidance. Yet professionally, it can also play a distinctly valuable role in guiding and developing productive business behaviours. In my work, I encourage people to act in the moment with their eyes on their ‘legacy’. How do they wish to be remembered when they leave the organisation? How do they want people to talk about them, remember them? Act right now the way you want to be remembered. Your blog and reminiscences are beautiful. Somehow, I’m sure you were as much an positive and loving echo in his life, as he was in yours.