My husband came home from his weekend with his parents carrying a couple of boxes and a small bag of treasures. My in-laws have apparently been cleaning things out and we are happily the recipients of their finds. In one of the boxes was a collection of cards and letters that my mother-in-laws parents wrote to each other over the years — starting with their courtship into their long marriage. The cards in and of themselves are works of art – so intricate and beautiful – but it is the little messages and signatures that made us smile. They called each other Catalins and Billicans (Cas and Bill normally), honey, sweetheart, dear, my Big Honey, etc. It was adorable. And the letters to each other during their courtship! Oh, the letters! So sweet and endearing. I loved this woman. In our family, we referred to her as Pennsylvania Grandmom and him as – you guessed it – Pennsylvania Granddad. (Guess where they lived???). She was the type of grandmother I never had prior to meeting her and I adored her.
Watching my daughter go through the boxes and letters and trinkets, and then reading them aloud, made me think about the generations that have gone before us. How we each have a little bit of each of them within us. The way we walk or talk or laugh or enjoy the ocean or cooking or crocheting or crafting. The way we love and show affection and reach out to people and animals in need. The way we appreciate nature or music or poetry or literature.
Over the course of the next few months – before, during and after the holiday season – you’ll be reading/hearing a lot about memorializing your loved ones at this time of year. I’d like to propose a different idea: what if you just live your life knowing that you are a living legacy. Who you are, the way you think, the things you enjoy and do and care about, are a legacy. You don’t have to make any grand gestures, publicly or privately, because YOU are the legacy. And that is the greatest gift you can give both to those who have died and those in the next generations…
(This song came to mind and I’ve been singing it all day. For a beautiful song about legacy by one of my favorite singer/songwriters click here.)
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Copyright 2014 Lisa B. Wolfe, Translating Grief, LLC