What legacy will you leave behind?

“I’ve done a lot of complaining here, but of all the things I’ve complained about, I can’t complain about my life.” – Andy Rooney, Commentator

Andy Rooney, a commentator on CBS’ 60 Minutes, died at the age of 92 last fall. His age, although significant, is not what caught my attention. These days, many people live into their 90s.What I thought was significant, is that he worked until October 2, 2011, the day he died. He retired at age 92, after 33 years with CBS (he had other jobs previously).

Even if you didn’t watch his segment, “A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney,” you probably would recognize him. He had eyebrows that showed up before he did and had perfected the rumpled Peter Falk/Columbo look, especially when he wore sweaters. Week after week, Rooney made observations about the mundane and the profound. He played the curmudgeon to great effect. Sometimes he offended people (and was even suspended for it), sometimes his wry observations made us smile, and sometimes we just shook our heads wondering what the heck he was going on about.

It was clear to those who watched Rooney that he loved his work. He must have; he did 1,097 shows with 60 Minutes. He had a passion for defending some, lambasting others, eliciting change, and being heard. He was a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. Many called Rooney friend, among them greats like Cronkite and Reasoner.

I did not know him personally, so I have no idea what he would consider his legacy to be. As someone who watched Andy Rooney off and on throughout my adulthood, his legacy is that he noticed the seemingly unimportant – the things we may experience in passing, but not truly think about – and made them important. Rooney’s life exemplifies the life satisfaction of loving your work, choosing to work into your retirement years, and leaving your mark on the world.