Love is the greatest legacy of Simpsons creator Simon
Sam Simon is a name I've seen hundreds, possibly thousands, of times, written on an animated chalkboard. As one of the co-creators of The Simpsons, he's there on the credits, partly responsible for the greatest, most enduring, most subversive comedy series that's ever been on television.
But now we have reached the end of Simon's own story, one that's every bit as quirky, interesting and edgy as an episode of the show itself.
Simon died last Sunday, at the age of 59, finally succumbing to colon cancer more than two years after he was given just three months to live. Last year, Simon described having cancer as "the most amazing experience of my life" and it's true that, in having time to prepare for his death, he was able to use that time profitably, luxuriating in the support of his family and friends and raising awareness of his passions, and the causes he supported.
And it's this aspect - even more than his contribution to an American cultural institution - that Simon wanted as his legacy. Even though he left The Simpsons team after the show's fourth series, he had a lucrative royalty deal, which netted him more than $10m a year.
It is thought he was worth $100m when he died, and his wish was that this fortune would go to animal rights charities, including the Sam Simon Foundation, an organisation he set up which rescues dogs from animal shelters and trains them to assist disabled veterans.
"The thing about animals that speaks to me so much," said Simon recently, "is that my passion for the animals, and against animal abuse, is based on the knowledge that these creatures which think and feel can't speak for themselves, and they're dependent on us for that."
He told Time magazine last year that, even with a terminal illness, he was the happiest he'd ever been. "Somehow, I ended up surrounded by people that love me and take care of me," he said. "It's a good feeling. That's called happiness."
This is a really thoughtful, interesting proposition. At a point when we have to accept an inexorable medical reality, when the day-to-day anxieties of existence subside, and when the material aspects of life have no meaning, or significance, it may be possible to achieve true happiness in the things that really matter, the causes we believe in, the people, and the living creatures we love, and love us back.
Love the greatest legacy of Simpsons creator