Aunt Ellen’s Legacy

Our sweet Aunt Ellen passed away last year at the grand age of 97. Because of the pandemic, we could not have a funeral for the whole family. So this year, the family had a memorial service at the church she helped found in Tennessee.

The service was lovely. We sang Aunt Ellen’s favorite hymns, read her chosen Scriptures and heard great stories of moments in her life. We met friends and heard new stories never told before.

We saw the columbarium where Aunt Ellen had been interred next to Uncle Gene. It all came full circle. Complete.

But at the reception, where four generations were gathered, I began to see the real legacy of Aunt Ellen.It was children living out the ethics, strength and humor of a dramatic mother who made a difference. It was grandchildren mirroring the teachings and remembering camping and paying cards with a very involved grandmother. It was great grandchildren running around the restaurant, playing with cousins they hadn’t seen in a long time, and hearing stories about a great grandmother they knew but maybe not very well. It was nieces and nephews making plans with cousins to keep newly revised relationships alive and well.

Family — that was the real story of Aunt Ellen. The story told over years and generations with ups and downs, laughs and cries, rain and sunshine, as all stories are.

The story was visible in one room but could not be contained in one lifetime. A legacy is very complicated and takes time. It takes commitment, love, planning and a lot of joy.

I think Aunt Ellen did a good job. Looking around at her legacy, I could see evidence of her love, commitment, humor and ethics. I saw good people laughing, telling stories, making new memories, making plans, developing their own legacies.

Aunt Ellen would be proud.

I think Aunt Ellen did a good job. Looking around at her legacy, I could see evidence of her love, commitment, humor and ethics. I saw good people laughing, telling stories, making new memories, making plans, developing their own legacies.

Aunt Ellen would be proud.

comcomplicated and takes time. It takes commitment, love, planning and a lot of joy.

Leaving A Legacy

legacy-brandEveryone wants to be remembered, to leave a legacy of some sort in their family. Many of us work hard to see that the gift truly reflects our values and beliefs.

As elders in the family, grandparents have a unique status. They have years of accumulated wisdom, knowledge and experience. No one else has the training to teach younger members how the world works, how people work and how life works. No one else can speak to situations of survival better than one who has survived for so many years. And certainly no one can relate better to end of life issues than a person facing those issues on a daily basis. Grandparents have a lot to give and their job is to give it all away.

2014-foundation-leaving-legacy_920x360That’s what leaving a legacy is – giving all the wisdom and learning of a lifetime to the next generation and the next and the next. Hopefully, a family elder will tell all the stories, give all the advice and relate all the philosophy by the time her life is over.

Not only is a legacy handed down orally in verbal stories but by simply showing the manner of how a life is lived. Sometimes we say more by what we do. A life well lived is the best example of excellence, of purpose, of love and of good behavior.

There is also the written manner in the form of a Spiritual Will. This can be a gift to your family of your core values, stories that illustrate the insights you have gained and/or love letters to those dearest to you. It is all the mental, emotional and spiritual traditions you want to leave to your family; life lessons that only you can endow to the younger generations.legacy

You will be remembered. You will leave a legacy. Make sure it is worthy.

What Will The Grandchildren Say?

I read an interesting question the other day at TheDailyPost. “What do you hope your children will say about you when they are grown?” Well, my children are already grown, so I got to thinking in terms of grandchildren. What do I hope my grandchildren will say about me? Of course, I hope they say I’m perfect, but now that I hear that word”perfect,” it sounds a bit boring.

So what is the lasting impression I hope to leave? I want to give this some thought. I don’t want to be casual or flippant. I know my current actions are already making an impression, but am I being mindless and arbitrary? I hope not. I want to be intentional, but remain spontaneous and fun-loving. So again I ask, “What do I want my legacy to be?”

I came up with the following ten things I hope my grandchildren say about me when they are grown.

1 – My Granny loved me more than anything.

2 – My Granny told me she loved me every chance she had.

3 – My Granny showed me she loved me every way possible, sometimes to my embarrassment. But I wouldn’t change a thing.

4 РMy Granny had a great laugh that made everyone around her join in the laughter.

5 – My Granny had the best sense of humor and could always make me laugh.

6 – My Granny could celebrate any holiday or occasion better than anyone.

7 – My Granny loved to give presents.

8 – My Granny loved to feed people, especially loved ones at her big dining room table.

9 – My Granny loved to hug everybody and call them Sweetie.

10 – My Granny made me feel special.

I hope to act and become the Granny that produces such wonderful comments from her “grands.”