Aging Successfully: Leaving legacies

Recently while sharing with a friend that my next column would be on the subject of “leaving legacies,” she brought up the idea of considering the legacies we have received. I am grateful for the ones I personally have received yet never thought about discussing that aspect of the subject in this column. Thank you, my friend.

There are several different meanings for the word legacy. In this column I choose to use the Webster’s Dictionary definition. Legacy is something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past. This includes both tangible and non-tangible items for one person, a family, or generation, or even for the entire world. Think of the artists and poets throughout history such as Michael Angelo or Robert Frost. Then there are those individuals who improved our world conditions such as Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King.

What legacies have you received? The list of possibilities is endless. Here are a few examples to consider: family traditions, special gifts or talents, and value systems.

Then there are tangible legacies to pass on such as recipes, photos, or letters. My great grandfather started one of the first newspapers in the Oregon Territory. I received a dual legacy from him in I have inherited his writing talent and I have copies of those ancient newspapers.

This column is part of the legacy I will leave with the world when I pass on. When I first began writing it, the thought of it being part of my legacy never entered my mind. In addition to my writing being my legacy to the world, I have other things I wish to leave. One of those is I would like to be remembered for having been a woman of integrity, at least by my friends and family.

We all have the ability to consciously examine what legacies we have received and what we choose to pass on. What legacies would you like to leave behind for your family, friends, and for the world? What do you want to be remembered for? If you cannot think of anything immediately, there is nothing wrong with that.

Take your time and do some soul-searching. The answers may not be what you expected. Few of us can be the next Einstein or Rockefeller but we still have the ability to make a difference, to leave our corner of the world a better place than when we entered it.

One dear friend is leaving a legacy to the world of breath-taking photography. He will also be remembered as a kind and wise mentor with a sense of humor.

Email us and share your legacy stories. I personally reply to each email.