Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Am I too late to leave a legacy?

Sometimes, I think about legacies and wonder whether it’s too late for me to leave one that means anything. I’m in my (late-ish) 40’s. I’ve had good jobs and did good things in them. I’ve bought homeless people food, donated clothing, time, and money.

But those things are mostly about being human.

They don’t exactly leave a legacy.




noun: legacy; plural noun: legacies

an amount of money or property left to someone in a will.

Interesting that legacy is defined by what we leave somebody in a will. That’s not what I think about when I think about the word. I think about legacy being the thing(s) we’re remembered by, once we’re gone.

I haven’t built the best special needs school, invented anything, or changed the world.


Steve Jobs was 21 when he and Wozniak started Apple. They began in a garage. Apple left a legacy. There are books and movies about how Steve Jobs gave us music, email, photos, and the entire world’s library in our pockets.

I’m in my 40’s and my best most lasting legacy is my son and the world I’ve tried to help make for him.

“I give to others,” I say. And I do.

Feeling good by giving back is great and all, but if you think about it, is a bit selfish. Don’t get me wrong. It’s good to do those things, it is. But sometimes, we don’t look at our own dreams and our own homes. We don’t look at leaving a legacy or the price we’d pay for leaving one.

Steve Jobs gave up a lot to give the legacy of Apple to the world.

That’s pretty hard for most of us to compete with, and so we don’t. Can’t, even. Any writer who writes thinking that she’ll never publish anything that isn’t as good as “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret” will never write another word.

A painter who dabs into the orange place on his pallet and thinks she can’t paint unless the painting is Monet-worthy will never paint.

A comedian who can’t be Robin Williams will never walk on-stage.

And so we do what we do.

BUT, what if leaving a legacy is smaller than Apple, Monet, Robin Williams, and smaller than who we believe we are?


What if leaving a legacy means that a sentence we spoke to a child or to a friend lasted through stories and the retelling of them?


You think about the times when your son has thanked you for telling him a story. How your stories make his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins into real people.

You think about the stories you were told that did the same.

You think about legacies, and that maybe your own family’s stories are enough. Not all of us can be Steve Jobs, after all.



Having a home with a garage and my brothers and I not sharing a room is not my father’s legacy. His lesson about cherry trees being more important than money? That’s something I’ve remembered. That’s something I’ll tell my son about. 

Maybe, our legacies are left in small ways. Left through stories told to our children and friends and through videos, when we talk about what it feels like to be a mother – a special needs mother.

Maybe, the best thing about leaving a legacy is that it’s ours to leave. Big or small. Most of us aren’t Steve Jobs. And that’s okay.

If, at my funeral, one person tells a story about how I made her laugh, or if my son remembers feeling loved, that’s legacy enough for me.

kristi rieger campbell finished post for finding ninee

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “I want my legacy to be…”

Finish the sentence Friday writing prompt

Link up below!

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  • Emily - I like how you say maybe our legacies are left in small ways…I believe you are right about that. I had the same initial thoughts as you when I saw this prompt — I’m 50 and what have I done?? I’m not Steve Jobs either, but your post has reassured me that that is okay.October 6, 2016 – 10:30 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I’ve been thinking about dying a lot recently, which I know is crazy and not healthy, and I want to do more and say more about this (but as always I wrote and drew from 8:33 to 9:40 GAH)… but really, we’re not all Steve Jobs. And I’m not sure each of us should be, you know? It’s the little stuff. It’s selling lemonade for childhood cancer research. That’s legacy. <3October 6, 2016 – 11:04 pmReplyCancel

  • Debi - Legacy definitely doesn’t have to be big! Your examples from your own family are so much more meaningful. I love them!October 6, 2016 – 11:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi - I promise I wrote mine before I read yours! I agree with your idea of legacy, and I hope my family will also feel love and remember the funny times.October 7, 2016 – 12:25 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - LOL I believe you and loved yours. Here’s to both of our families feeling love and remembering the funny times (and to Clark not seeing this and deciding all of us post the same ideas expressed as we do so anyway LOL).October 8, 2016 – 12:28 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa @TheGoldenSpoons - Love! Love! Love! I totally agree. Not many of us will be abel to leave a Steve Jobs kind of legacy, but we can all make small impacts. I definitely think my daughters are my legacy – and their children – and their children’s children. If I raise them to be mostly good people who are kind, productive citizens, then that’s enough for me. 🙂October 7, 2016 – 4:10 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Is there anything better than seeing a comment that says Love! Love! Love! I think not so THANK YOU and here’s to small impacts. I know your daughters will carry you on as will their children. You’re doing a good job and yeah, that’s enough. In all of our homes. Thanks, Lisa!October 8, 2016 – 12:29 amReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Well I think Our Land is a legacy and should be a book but just with the stories you alone have told, there’s that! You’ve given so much!October 10, 2016 – 10:31 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Maybe I should make Our Land a book… I always think why buy a book when you can read the stories online for free but you’ve got a point – all in one place, together, in print. xoxoxoOctober 12, 2016 – 12:10 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - To clarify, the Our Land is all here, in one place, you know? Christopher Chronicles are from all over, in case that sounded weird or unappreciative or something <3October 12, 2016 – 12:11 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - I think you already have more of a legacy to leave than you know. How you love your son, how you connect people to one another, how you fight for motherhood and all that is good and tragic about it…yeah. You’re awesome. So much of who you are is poured out in your words here and elsewhere – always beautiful, always wise.October 10, 2016 – 12:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Allie - I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to comment. I was waiting, because I’d really planned to link up with a birthday post that I thought would fit for legacy. But time, alas, got away. We need a new definition for legacy – cause with the estate taxes, none of us will have any legacies to leave behind anymore:(. Oy! This blog is part of your legacy momma. For Tucker and for all the people wohm you’ve helped with your words, stories, and your heart. xoxo.October 12, 2016 – 3:38 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerry - If, at my funeral, one person tells a story about how I made her laugh, or if my son remembers feeling loved, that’s legacy enough for me. clickable
    Love this Kristi.
    Reason I missed this so spot on prompt last weekend was that I was away and visiting family for a few days, after the death of my aunt a few weeks back. The whole legacy topic had me thinking, would have been the perfect thing to write about, but instead I am reading your thoughts now.
    I had a lot of time to think about what legacy means as I spent time in the places my aunt once inhabited. She was a half aunt, my father’s half sister, from his mother’s first marriage, in Europe during World War II. I only met my aunt twenty years ago, thanks to my parents making the effort to introduce me to her. A lot of families squabble and fight and I feel sad, even with my own, not wishing that to be the legacy left. On the whole though there is love and dedication and I felt that the entire time I was retracing her steps. I spent time with her daughter, my cousin, who now runs her own successful catering company and I see that a legacy is left in her and the toughness she got from her mother. Her mother and her mother’s mother, who was my oma. It all trickles down, the legacy left in a family. I don’t know. I just wish I knew better how to put these concepts into words.
    I am thinking on this week’s prompt and your comments about Steve Jobs makes me think. I owe him a lot, as the things he came up with and left as his legacy are the very same things that make my life, as a blind woman, a whole hell of a lot easier.
    I hope I can make beautiful things that, even if I never have kids of my own, can live on as my legacy. I write and just this year tried my hand at lyrics. I hope to play beautiful things on my violin one of these days.
    I just finished the second episode of a podcast about family, humour, and creativity with my brother and I hope those three things are all legacy could ever hope to be or will be for me personally.October 14, 2016 – 2:02 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you so so much Kerry!!! I can’t believe I didn’t see this comment until now. I’m sorry about that. You already are making beautiful things (and I love that Steve Jobs is a part of the technology that helps you to do so) with your blog and learning the violin and all of that. That you’re thinking about your family’s history is huge as well… I wish I’d thought more about mine when I was your age.
      xoxoxoOctober 14, 2016 – 11:12 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - PS I still want to write about what we talked about on IM. I just haven’t had time to think it through yet 🙂October 14, 2016 – 11:13 pmReplyCancel

  • Corinne Rodrigues - From the short time I’ve know you online, Kristi, I can say you will leave a fantastic legacy with your powerful and inspiring words.October 14, 2016 – 11:12 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw Corinne, that is so unbelievably sweet thank you thank you THANK YOU xoxoxoOctober 14, 2016 – 11:13 pmReplyCancel

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