Memories and experiences form portrait that is our legacy

By Thaddeus Chatto

You know that in nine hundred years of time and space and I’ve never met anybody who wasn’t important before.” 

That is a quote from the Doctor in the British television series, “Doctor Who.”

I have to agree with the Doctor. Everyone I know is important and special in his or her own way. And my friend who passed away recently is no different. 

His name is Vincent Vercide, and I knew him from a young age. My family and his are part of a friend group that is called the “Core Group.” My dad and the other doctors in the group went to medical school together in the Philippines and became friends there. When they moved to the United States, they all ended up in Southern Illinois and stayed just as close. 

Growing up, we would celebrate the holidays together, go on vacations together and just hang out together. 

Most of my actual blood-related family is still in the Philippines, so I thought of the “Core Group” as my family. 

I could not believe it when my mom told me the news. There were many thoughts and emotions that were running through my head. It did not seem real to me because he was only 20. 

But what’s important is not to focus on a person’s death, but to remember a person’s life. 

I’m a huge fan of the idea of leaving a legacy. We are all going to leave one on this world before we depart. 

A legacy can actually be a physical object — commonly money or property — that is received from someone who has passed away. But the legacy I think most of us will leave behind is the lasting impact a person has on his or her loved ones. 

The legacy that we will leave behind is how those who matter the most to us will remember our life. These include memories, experiences, and the emotions we frequently had. 

We won’t really know what kind of legacy we have left after we die because we will be gone. The legacy we leave behind is up to interpretation by those who are still living. 

Some legacies are easy to define and more noticeable, such as Steve Jobs, Walt Disney and Nelson Mandela. 

Not all legacies will be that large and widespread, but each legacy is still important. 

It was at the funeral that I learned of the legacy Vincent would leave behind. 

Everyone that spoke during the eulogy said that he was just a friendly, funny, and nice guy. 

One time Vincent was at a Taco Bell, waiting for his food to be ready, and he saw a man unable to purchase food because he was short of cash. So my friend, without saying a word, laid a $10 bill in front of the man so that he could afford the food. 

That story shows the type of guy Vincent was. He was a stand-up guy, and that story just adds to his legacy of being a genuinely nice person. 

And, while I was sitting there listening to all of these people say these things about him, I thought that it must have meant the world to his parents to hear all these things, too. 

It’s never easy for parents to live past their child. 

There are certain things about our character that don’t come out to our parents. It’s not as though we are actively trying to hide those things; they just don’t show up. 

I talk to my parents everyday, or I try to, at least. I tell them how I am doing and anything major that happens, but they don’t see every side of me. They don’t know exactly what I am like when I am with my friends or classmates. 

I see my parents as my parents. We are close, and I do consider them friends, but I still see them as my parents. The way they see me is always going to be different than how my friends see me. 

Our legacy encompasses all the different aspects of ourselves. It’s not just how I am with my parents, my friends, or my coworkers. It’s how I am with everyone combined that forms my legacy. 

So I think that the eulogy at Vincent’s funeral was a time for his parents to see the full scope of their son’s life and legacy. They could hear the stories and memories about their son from others and combine it with their own. 

It’s like each memory and experience someone would say about Vincent was a new piece in the puzzle that formed a portrait of his legacy. 

And by the end of the day, it was a beautiful picture. 

It’s important to remember that what we do while we are alive can still have an impact even after we are gone. Just like the Doctor said, we are all important. 

Our time here on Earth may be short, but the legacy we leave behind can live forever. 

Vincent’s legacy is one I plan on remembering for the rest of my life.

Thaddeus is a senior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Thaddingham.