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By Claire Moncla, Student Intern, Baylor Line

My grandfather has terminal cancer and may not last through this week. Since my mother first called me to tell me the news of his worsening condition, I have been upset and angry as I think about the tragedy of an ending life: the mourning family, bereft spouse, and ownerless possessions.

But lately I have had a change in perspective. Now that I am interning with the Baylor Alumni Association and learning and writing about influential or famous alumni, I am constantly presented with the idea of legacy.

My grandfather did not write any famous books or make many large donations to Baylor. He didn’t even attend the university. But although he might not seem like a legacy in Baylor history, he has had a subtle, yet profound, effect on the university.

My grandfather sent three of his four children–including my mother–to Baylor. He came to football games, paid for sorority involvement, and attended parental events. He told my mother and her sisters that he would fund everything they needed as long as they got a degree in four years and didn’t get married until they graduated.

He made it possible for my mother to attend a university she came to love–a love which she passed on to me. I grew up visiting the campus and hearing about her student days here: the beautiful campus, erratic dorm life, her favorite history professors, and early days dating my father.

My grandfather was very excited when I also decided to attend Baylor. He and my grandmother came to parents’ weekend during my freshman year, met my professors, and walked with me around the campus. When I decided to study abroad my sophomore spring semester at Baylor, my grandfather made it possible for me to go.

These acts are why my grandfather has a legacy at Baylor. He might not have done anything famous or ground breaking for the university, but he is a thread in the fabric that holds Baylor together.

This fabric, composed of average citizens, sends their children and grandchildren to Baylor, passing their love for the university from generation to generation. They write the tuition checks. They fill the seats at football games and graduation and cheer around the bonfire at homecoming. They are part of the life and breath of the university.

All good things come to an end. I’ve heard the saying countless times, but I’ve rarely thought about how all good things also have a beginning. Continuing to think about my grandfather dying as an ending is not giving the appreciation and honor he deserves. Instead I am focusing on his life as the beginning of many good things. One of the important ones to me is my grandfather’s legacy of love and support of Baylor– something I am privileged to continue.

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