Leaving a Legacy

I’ve heard it said that it’s not about when you were born or when you died that matters; it’s what you did with the dash between the years. We all want to be remembered for something one day. It’s important for us to remember that the same goes for our elderly loved ones too. They no doubt have a legacy they wish to leave behind or things they want to always be remembered for, such as their generosity, an adventurous spirit, or how they always took time to listen to others in need. The most important legacy they can leave behind, however, is us—their children, grandchildren, siblings, etc. Having spent most of our lives with them, the values they instill in us and the things they taught us can stay with us long after they are gone.

For a lot of older people, family was always most important for them. They grew up in an era when families stuck together, celebrated in the good times and supported one another in the bad times. After all, very few people, when facing the end of their lives, wish they would have spent more time at work! Rather, you often hear that they wished they had spent more time with their loved ones, doing things they enjoyed, or making a difference in the lives of the people around them.

Obviously, work is a very important part of our day to day lives, but it shouldn’t be the thing that, when people look back on us, first comes to mind. You wouldn’t want your family or friends to remember that you never had enough time to spend with them, or that you never took the time to find out what was truly important to them. That would leave a sour taste in anyone’s mouth.

So as we work together with our elderly family members or friends to ease into the winter of their life, let’s take some time and reflect on their lives and what was important to them. Let’s think about the things they taught us, the way they laughed so hard the room echoed, the time they took to kiss a scraped knee or to tell us stories of their own childhood. And in doing so, we may just figure out what we ourselves would like to be remembered for.

No one likes to think about facing the end of their life, even though the end of life is a part of living. But if we can take the time to reflect on the lives of our loved ones with happiness and joy, we will often have an easier time getting through what is normally a difficult time. Because if we remember their legacies, and the good things they have left behind, then they aren’t really gone. They’re a part of us.