Legacy. What might we choose our legacies to be?

by dena on September 30, 2015

Legacy. This very word is the photo-&-text prompt for the final day in the lovely month long #talesofseptember challenge on Instagram, hosted by Tori, @toris_tales.

Claytons_grandparents n Burkes_AnnaEllisCarolJim Charlie_late 1940s

What is a Legacy? When I think of the legacies left after those close to me have died, what impresses me most is how the lives of their loved ones have received spiritual riches from the experiences of being with them.

While dictionary definitions speak of money and other personal property bequeathed by a will or anything handed down from an ancestor, those are “thing” descriptions. Many bequeathed gifts of money and other items have brought definite blessings to recipients. An education, a place to live, help paying medical bills are some of the ways people’s lives are enhanced by financial legacies. With extremely large legacies, big changes can be made, such as a cardiology wing added to a hospital. As well, money is left to charities that provide all sorts of wonderful services.

Beyond the idea of monetary legacies, both with people who do and do not have sums of money to leave to others, what seems to make the most positive difference has to do with the ways individuals share compassion in their lives.

I think of my mother, all four grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, and my husband. The love they shared with me and with so many others are the most important legacies. To my mind, it is the compassionate connections that touch us deeply and that we long cherish. I remember a comment I heard during the visitation at the funeral home when my mother died. A woman I barely knew said, “When she talked with you, you always felt like you were her best friend.”

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I have written on the blog about Remembrance Gatherings, similar to memorial services, where stories are shared for at least an hour – even memories sent by far away folks to be read aloud. Our family arranged for these a few months after the deaths of Aunt Kiddy (1997), my mother (2000), and my husband (2002). We had people video the stories about Mother and Ron. We wish we had thought to do so with the reminiscences about Kiddy. The warmth, appreciation, and love that came through the shared collections of memories made so clear the many ways each brought kindness into their connections with those around them.

It is probably never too early to think about what legacies we might want to leave when the end of life comes. At sixty-six, I have been considering it more and more in recent years.

 

Right now, today, I am making two commitments:

1) to remember to place Love at the center of every idea I ponder in terms of legacy;

2) to remember that every moment, every interaction, is part of a legacy.

~   Each day holds opportunities for me to open my heart to people so they feel truly seen, accepted, treasured, loved.   ~

Blissings, Dena

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6 comments
Tori
Tori

This is such a beautiful tribute post to the very last prompt, sweet friend - what an honour it is that you chose to share further here. Your family sound like SUCH wonderful characters and, friend, I know how blessed they are to be touched by your love - I certainly am. That you all offered that time to the memory of your loved ones...so deeply moved by that. In fact, it made me think of something...I've only lost one person close to me, my Grandfather, and recently I bought a shampoo I remembered him having used - when I washed my hair, it reminded me of him, the smell, and made me think of times we shared before he passed :) So thank you for jogging that memory, Dena!! 

DenaClayton
DenaClayton

@Tori What a delight to find your comment today, Tori. Thank you, again, for hosting the phenomenal Tales of September challenge which offered the wonderful prompt for Legacy reflections. I'm so glad you had the memory about your grandfather, it is sweet to read about the idea of buying a shampoo he liked. 


Blissings,


Dena

Shalagh Hogan
Shalagh Hogan

Dear Dena,

I suspect you are a lot like your mother . That her compassion taught you well. And I commend and join you in consciously willfully holding compassion and whatever love you can muster for everyone you meet. Thank you for these thoughts.

Love,

Shalagh

DenaClayton
DenaClayton

@Shalagh Hogan Shalagh, thank you for sharing your reflections about this Legacy post. I am so touched by your note.


Blissings,

Dena

Michelle
Michelle

Dena, thank you for this wonderful contribution. Your final sentence is the stuff true legacies are made of. I love the concept of "Remembrance Gatherings" may we each know such unconditional love.

DenaClayton
DenaClayton

@Michelle I appreciate your reaching out to me, Michelle. Also, I'm glad you mentioned Remembrance Gatherings - because I have decided to offer another by telephone (or, gulp, skype, which I've not used before). I used to love holding an annual Community Remembrance Gathering around All Saints/All Souls Days, which eventually led to hosting them by telephone the last three times. I'm excited that this one may be attended by folks from around the globe - in addition to a few hundred miles away that occurred in the past. 



Blissings,


Dena

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