The Leading Edge: Grandpa’s Legacy

By: Marie Cosgrove

I vividly remember a beautiful, sunny afternoon. I was overwhelmingly happy in the car with my family—after all, it was a glorious, warm afternoon in the fall–highly unusual for Dayton, OH, where the weather is usually cold.

That was until the phone rang.  My brother-in-law gave us horrible news. I went from overwhelmingly happy to overwhelmingly sad—emotionally going from zero to sixty as I heard my brother-in-law say, “Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.”

The tears would not stop flowing. My heart hurt so deeply. My heart hurt for the entire family. I have been in the medical field for over 15 years—from what I know, pancreatic cancer has one of the highest mortality rates.  

My youngest son is seven years old. I can’t picture him growing up without his grandpa—the only one he has left.

I have loving memories of my grandfather who helped raise me. I was fortunate enough to spend time with him throughout my entire childhood. I can’t imagine what life would have been without my grandpa; he made my childhood unforgettable.

I want my son to build lasting memories through his relationship with his grandpa, like those I was blessed to have with my grandpa.

We went to South Dakota the first opportunity we had to spend some quality time with Grandpa.

I began to ask Grandpa questions to learn more about him. I will never forget the answer to the question, “What is the one thing that you wish everyone knew?”

He said, “EVERYONE has an expiration date. Some of us know the date, but most of us don’t. How you live your life before your expiration date matters.”

He shared a story about an inmate who was on death-row and had accepted Christ. On the day he was to be executed, he had a huge smile. The other inmates asked him, “Why are you smiling? Don’t you realize you will be executed today?”

The inmate replied, “All of us have an expiration date—except most of us don’t know the date, but I do know mine! I am happy because today I meet my maker and savior!”

My father-in-law is also a man of faith. He has dedicated his life toward serving others. He voluntarily gives his time freely to underprivileged, at-risk youth so that they can grow emotionally, mentally and spiritually to hopefully break free from things that hold them back.

He also devotes his time to serving his family through his life’s example and by giving them words of wisdom so they can be spiritually filled, leaving behind a legacy that will live on in the hearts of those he loves and onto a thousand generations.

His words reminded me of “The Law of Legacy,” my favorite law in John Maxwell’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.   In it, John Maxwell states, “A Leader’s Lasting Value is Measured by Succession.”

Below are suggested questions you can ask yourself to help build a legacy you can be proud of for years to come. A legacy that will not only survive materially but also will survive in the hearts and minds of those you love after your ‘expiration’ date—an ‘expiration’ date we will all experience.

What are the contents of your book?

My father-in-law has taught me through the way he lives his life that YOUR life IS YOUR book. What does your life look like in the chapters you have written?

What actions are you taking today that will impact the way people remember you? Are the actions you are taking today leaving a legacy that will be carried on in people’s hearts for generations to come?

I will always be thankful for the small gestures my father-in-law has shown me that have left a significant impact on my heart. For example, when I was pregnant with my son, he would call me frequently to make sure my pregnancy was coming along well. He would encourage me when I was feeling ‘blue.’ He had an ear for listening. He took time away from running the farm to call his daughter-in-law, which showed me that he genuinely cared and valued me as a person. His actions showed me he had a kind, loving spirit.  

What do you want your legacy to look like?

You can make changes in the way you live your life today so that you can leave behind a powerful, impactful legacy on how others will remember you. A legacy teaching others how to leave behind a legacy of their own by example— an extraordinary inheritance you can give to those you love.


Marie Cosgrove is an accomplished Entrepreneur, who has had the privilege of working with some of the most recognizable Fortune 500 companies, including FedEx and Sprint.  Marie has successfully launched several medical device-manufacturing companies and serves as part of the John Maxwell Team, serving on the Presidential Advisory Council and as an independent Speaker, Mentor and Coach. Marie has 4 adult children, a 7-year-old and 3 grandchildren. She enjoys all things outdoors (beaches, hiking, camping and sledding).  Learn more about Marie at