Monday, November 19, 2012

What's your legacy?

One friend responded to my request for help on blog topics saying she's thinking about death a lot these days. Not in a morbid sense but just in that realistic way that happens when you get to the stage of life where you're aware that you have far fewer years ahead of you than behind you.

Her idea brings to mind something on which I've been focused for the last few years. I've heard a lot about living legacies and have given lots of thought to the legacy I leave for my three sons and my nine grandchildren. I don't mean my estate, such as it is. I mean what I leave behind in terms of values and wisdom. What are they learning from me as I live my life now? What beliefs and attitudes am I sharing?

For my sister's birthday this year, I gave her one of those "For my grandchild" memory books that grandparents fill out and present to their grandchild. Cheryl has one grandchild, and she has been having the time of her life writing in that book about her own childhood and adulthood. While the book includes the facts of Cheryl's life, it asks open-ended questions that allow her to draw a picture of who she is and what's important to her. It's about the legacy Cheryl is passing on. She imagines what fun Savannah will have reading it when she's older (she's 3 now) and how this book will allow Savannah to know her grandmother in a deeper and more personal way. Cheryl also knows her son will likely enjoy reading the book, too.

While I've given thought to my living legacy and have deeply engaged in my grandchildren's lives, I still haven't written in the two grandmother books I was given, one when my first grandchild was born and another when my second arrived (they're 17 and 16 already!). Cheryl is inspiring me (though I think I'll do my own book rather than filling in nine separate books!) to act on the living legacy idea. And with her thoughts on death these days, my friend inspires me to be even more aware of how I'm living—for myself and for those I love and will someday leave behind.

What's your legacy?

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