Oct. 21 marks the birth of Alfred Nobel. He was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1833. His claim to fame was as inventor of dynamite. He also had a manufacturing company that made weapons and he made lots and lots of money. However, he is also the guy who gives us the Nobel Peace Prize (and prizes for literature, physics, chemistry and medicine).

Oct. 21 marks the birth of Alfred Nobel. He was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1833. His claim to fame was as inventor of dynamite. He also had a manufacturing company that made weapons and he made lots and lots of money. However, he is also the guy who gives us the Nobel Peace Prize (and prizes for literature, physics, chemistry and medicine).

Alfred Nobel was just some rich guy with a weapons plant, so it is ironic that his legacy is recognition of achievements that make the world a better place. The story goes that when his brother died, a French newspaper wrote the obituary for Alfred instead, and it was not a glowing report.

According to a Writer’s Almanac story, the newspaper stated that Nobel became rich by “finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before.” The report shook Nobel to the core and he decided he did not want to be remembered in that way.

He changed his will and left 94 percent of his wealth to fund five prizes to recognize the greatest achievements of man. The awards are given annually in Sweden, except for the Peace Prize that is handed out in Oslo, Norway.

Each Nobel recipient receives a gold medal, a diploma, and about a million dollars. That’s $5 million in prizes every year. That’s quite a legacy. The rest of us don’t have millions to give, but what do we have? What is your legacy?

If you were to read an obituary written about you today, what would it say? “Couch potato who occasionally goes to the mall,” “Workaholic complainer who is so stressed and irritable that his family avoids talking to him” or “Merely existed?”

Write your own obituary. How you want to be remembered is how you must live your life now.

“Joyful person who encourages others to love themselves and be themselves and find the happy in every day.” “School teacher and coach who gives extra time and compassion to students.” “Wall Street millionaire who faithfully calls his grandma every Sunday and gives more than 10 percent to causes he believes in.”

You get my drift. If you want to be remembered as a kind, generous person, you have to live it now. If you are always too busy to have lunch with a friend, those friends fall away. If you don’t share your wealth – wealth is whatever money you have, your time, your talent – then you miss out on the joy of living.

If you love to sew, share that gift and help your friends who are challenged to sew on a button. If you can cook, invite friends and family over for dinner. If you can (fill in the blank), share.

What most people want from you is not your money. It’s your time. They want to laugh with you or talk with you or hold you or eat with you or golf with you or fish with you or take a walk with you or ….

Take a look at your legacy and if you don’t like it, rewrite it. Alfred Nobel did and he died a year later. Start your legacy now.

Journal-Standard contributor Kelly Epperson can be reached at P.O. Box 2324, Loves Park, IL 61131; www.kellyepperson.com, and kel_epperson@yahoo.com.