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.
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.”
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. ~
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