I’ve adopted a positive approach to aging– I don’t have hot flashes, it’s just my inner child playing with matches. I’m in shape, it’s just a little more round. I’m okay with my membership at AARP if it saves me cash to buy some killer shoes. I’m not losing my hearing, I just chose to tune out those who I don’t care to listen to… and I like naps. If I’m being honest, the more time I spend on the planet, the more I can see how fierce and capable I am of handling whatever life throws at me. I may not like (or even remember) everything that floats my way, but I will handle it.
Watching my parents’ age sucks. It’s worse than watching myself age. I feel for them because I know that Father Time is working against them now. Even though they have slowed down, I will always remember them as I did as a child: wise, loving, hardworking, nurturing, selfless, protective and proud. In my eyes, their legacy is beautiful, and it is cemented.
Because of the process, I’m walking with my parents, I have been thinking about my own legacy, what I will leave behind when my time on this beautiful earth is up. I’d like to think I have the whole second half of my life to live, explore and grow, but the truth is, I don’t know.
One of my favorite all-time movies is Dead Poets Society. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. If you haven’t watched it in a while, pour yourself a glass of wine and put it on Netflix. It’s two hours you won’t regret it. The older I get, the more I get that movie. John Keating, played by the incredible Robin Williams, is a high school English teacher who challenges his students to look at their immortal legacy which can only be obtained through their own actions. He implores them to Carpe Diem, “Seize the day” and to “Make your lives extraordinary”.
The concept of my immortal legacy matters most when I think of my kids. It is their opinion of who I was and what I stood for that I care about most. What do I want them to remember about me? What do I want them to tell their children about? What about me do I want them to hold close to their hearts? What stories do I want to be carried down from generation to generation that allows me to live in the hearts of my future family I may never meet?
If my time was to end tomorrow (please come to my service so my kids think I had a lot of friends), I hope my children will recall my legacy something like this:
She loved people more than she loved possessions.
She was more concerned with how we treated others than she was with our accomplishments.
She wanted us to be adventurous and lifelong learners.
She savored being a mom and that title made her heart swell.
She married wisely and picked a partner that was her forever.
She hated being in the spotlight but loved watching other people shine.
She understood the importance of community.
She loved to laugh until she peed.
She knew she lived a blessed life and thanked God every night for it.
She forgave people and hoped others did the same to her.
She preferred a full heart over a full wallet.
She stood by her faith and lived by her values.
She tickled us when we were little because she loved nothing more than our giggles and smiles.
She had zero rhythm, but she danced like there was no tomorrow.
She took the time to listen to us. What mattered to us, mattered to her.
She did her best to find the good in others and looked beyond the exterior to see people’s true beauty.
She loved buying gifts and it gave her great joy to make other people feel special.
She loved glitter because it made people feel young all over again.
She knew difficult times just meant the universe was making space for all the great that was to come.
She had an amazing “picker” for friends. She knew the good apples!
She was a terrible interior decorator, but she could make one mean coffee cake.
She was stubborn, loyal, persistent, and unapologetically herself.
She had grit and prayed for grace.
She was a proud mama bear.
She was not wealthy but boy was she rich.
I read somewhere that creating our legacy is not leaving something for people, it is leaving something in people. It is about leaving your own mark, it is what lives on beyond us. Life is challenging and never without a struggle, but I hope my legacy reflects someone who didn’t back down in the face of adversity and lived with a zest for life and a love for other people, especially her family and dear friends. I hope my legacy involves words like “goofy, silly and playful”. Above all, I hope that regardless of how many more trips around the sun I will make, my kids know without a doubt that they were wanted, loved, and treasured by their mother. And that because of them, I led an extraordinary life centered around the things that mattered the most.
What legacy do you hope you will leave? What do you want to be remembered for? What footprint will you leave on this earth?