Our Legacy | Gorgeous Gippsland on WordPress.com

I was looking through a box of my Mother’s possessions the other day, and feeling sad that her whole life seemed to me to be condensed into a box of “things”. As I picked up the various items, photos that she treasured, a newspaper cutting, some diaries she had written, a shopping list in her beautiful handwriting, a small shoe that had belonged to her Sister who died before she was born, so many little bits and pieces, “things” that had meant something to her, and I was sadden by the thought that her life was wrapped up and summarised by these things. That now she was gone, all that remained was a box of “things”. Tears welled in my eyes at that sad thought, that someone had lived a full and wonderful life, and yet all that remained was a box of papers, photos and physical things. Was that what would be left of me and my life, after I was gone?

But then it occurred to me, that of course her life was more than these “things” these mementos that she had kept and treasured. These were just physical things that reminded her of people gone before, of memories of love and loved ones. They were her “treasures”that were really in her heart, not in the physical things she kept, but in the memories in her heart that the physical things reminded her of.

The memories that each of our family members carry in their hearts, the memories I have in my heart, the many things that are part of who I am, are part of who she was too. These are the things that we leave behind, not the material things like photos and newspaper clippings, but the memories of moments together, shared moments that just the two of you knew. Small seemingly insignificant things, stay in our hearts as treasured memories, things we can think of and relive, and in those moments of reliving our loved one is very near, as close as our own hearts. This reminds us that those we love who have gone, are as close as the memories we hold in our hearts.

The legacy that each of us leave behind, is not found in riches, in property or physical things we may have accumulated during our lifetimes — these things are just reminders for those left behind, reminders of moments shared. Our legacy is the love we have for those around us, the moments we allow others into our hearts and minds to share our real selves. This is what people remember of you, not what you had, but what you gave, what you shared and how much of yourself you gave to each person who was part of your life, and how you made each person feel. If you make each person feel loved, respected and important to you, that is what they will remember, how good it was to be with you, to feel that to you, they were important and their thoughts and feelings mattered to you, that you were important to them.

Of my Mother I remember that she loved me, that no one on this planet loved or cared more for my welfare and wanted the best for me, than my Mother. I remember that no one on this planet was more fierce or scary if I ventured from the path of right. I remember that I was important to her, as her “baby” her youngest child. I remember that she was my staunchest supporter through thick or thin, and my fiercest opponent if I was going the wrong way! I remember her hands, stroking my face when I was ill, slapping my legs when I was unruly, her smile, quick and easy and her laughter ready to enjoy the moments of comedy she found in everyday life, and her frown, dark and ominous if I were in the wrong! But what I remember most of all, was the way she made me feel when I was with her — comfortable, loved, accepted, important, special, beautiful, warm and secure. Isnt’that the way Mothers should make their children feel? I believe so, and I believe it is one of THE most important things a Mother can give her children. My Mother made me feel I could do anything, achieve anything, be anything, and I knew without a doubt that she accepted me just the way I was at that moment, but that she also aspired to greater things for me, for me to be a better person, to move on and upwards. I knew that she may not have agreed with what I was doing at that particular moment, but that she loved me just the same. She may have hated what I was doing, but she loved me, the person, and it’s that very thing that kept me aspiring to be a better person.

These thoughts inspire me, to be the kind of person who people like being with, to be the kind of person who can inspire others to be the best they can, and to be loving and accepting of those who come into my life, even if I don’t agree with what they are doing. I can love and accept someone without loving and accepting what they do. What a great world it would be, if everyone aspired to this? Can we do it I wonder? Can we love someone and at the same time hate what they do?

I think of the Mothers of those addicted to drugs — you love your child, but you hate what they do. What a hard, impossible place to be in! As Mothers we want to make everything right for our children, we want to step in and “fix it” for them, but often we can’t, it is their choice, their own choosing and we have to step back and allow them to make their own mistakes. Can we still show our children that we love them, want only the best for them, but hate what they are doing, the choices they have made? Can we reject their choices but not them? Impossibly, incomprehensibly, hard and heartbreaking for any mother.

I digress, the whole point of this rambling is the question — what will we leave behind when our time on this earth is over? Will a family member sort through your “treasures” and find anything more than papers, photos and physical bits and pieces? What memories will our family hold in their hearts? What memories will our friends have? Will YOU be remembered as a kind, loving and inspiring person, the kind of person everyone wanted to be with, to call their friend?

What is your legacy to your family and friends, and people you knew in your life?

Originally published at gorgeousgippslandblog.wordpress.com on October 22, 2016.