My Legacy? Ya Got Me

Crawford Hart
Guest Columnist

How will I be remembered? 

What will I leave behind? 

What will be my epitaph? 

To all three questions, my well-reasoned response is, “Ya got me.” I’m still trying to cope with the days I have left. I haven’t given much thought to the aftermath. Perhaps the answer to the third question will be, “He didn’t fuck up,” although that might be open to interpretation. 

Most days I don’t think I’ve done much. No buildings with my name in glowing letters brightly displayed. No foundations endowed. No avenues named after me. No university chairs in my name – hell, I’m a college dropout, which, given my double major in English and Philosophy, turned out to be a good career move. 

Truth is, I got no complaint; I never aspired to any of that stuff anyway. My career involved sitting in a dark room in front of a computer retouching images. The holy grail of such work is for no one to know you were ever there. So while I can claim to have never qualified for a “Photoshop Gone Bad,” collection, I never got a credit at publication time, either.

I guess I managed to do some influential work back in the beginning days of the Sterling Men’s Division; maybe I even inspired one or two. But that was 33 years ago. Times change.

Here’s something I did. I raised a daughter in the heart of Brooklyn. After the usual trials and tribulations, dropping out, then rediscovering herself, she made it through college with a 3.9 average, grad school with a 4.0, and got herself a degree with an actual career attached to it. So I guess you could say she’s been successfully launched. We still get along, I never gave her a reason to mistrust me, and I can say with pride that I gave her the best I was capable of as a father. 

For a period of time, in our Sunset Park neighborhood, women began getting assaulted on the surrounding streets. Eventually the sorry sack of shit was caught, but until then he was a real problem, including for my daughter. One of her classes ended at 10 o’clock in the evening. And so, three nights a week, I’d wait for a call as her train crossed the bridge, then I’d put on my shoes and hike down to the subway station to meet her. I think she was a little self-conscious about feeling vulnerable. The first night, she took my arm and in a sing-song cartoon voice chirped “My hero.” But she recognized hard realities and knew they trumped politics.

Isn’t that what we all aspire to? To be a hero?

The term is a bit quaint and definitely showing signs of neglect in this new order. It’s hard to fit a hero into a room filled with toxic masculinity. But the hero still evokes the best that men have to offer. The guy who shows up when needed, who stays till the job is done, and tries to leave things better than when he got there. It’s true for me. So far I haven’t needed a cape, and no opportunities to save Western Civilization have presented themselves.

But if I’ve been able to make my daughter’s world feel a little safer, and ease her transition into adulthood, that might be enough. 

Maybe she’s my legacy, and it will be her accomplishments that will be remembered.

That would be just fine with me.

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