Your Legacy is Your Life

Thirty-five years ago my mom and dad became snowbirds, abiding in Yuma, Arizona for six months of the year in an effort to avoid the cold, snowy Idaho winters. After my dad passed away, I insisted on accompanying my mother on her annual journey as a safety measure – after all a woman shouldn’t be driving that distance by herself. 

Little did I know that I would come to value those yearly treks as we talked almost the entire distance of nearly 900 miles, enjoying our one-on-one time as I learned so much about her and her early life. Knowing I would forget some of the stories, I encouraged her to write them down. 

Seven years ago, when my mother passed away, I found a folder filled with life stories she had written … some she had shared with me and others were new. As I read them, some made me laugh, others made me cry and all gave me a better understanding of who she was as a person. I soon realized that these stories were my mother’s legacy. 

As I shared with friends the treasures I had inherited in these stories, all could relate. Some said they wish their parents or grandparents had written their life stories, some said their parents had and they were so glad they did, while others admitted they really needed to start writing their own memories. 

Some people have commented, “Who would want to read about my life? It’s so boring.” To them I respond, “That’s just not true. Everyone has a story to tell!” 

If you don’t think your life is interesting, consider these questions: 

·     What changes have occurred throughout your lifetime? (technology, travel, cost of goods, education, social behavior)

·     What difficulties have you experienced and what lessons did you learn from them? (Sharing the lessons we learned will help our children and grandchildren better face their own challenges.)

·     Who are some of the people or events that have influenced your life? In what way?

·     What are some of the values and beliefs you cherish and would like to pass on to your posterity? Why? 

If these questions don’t convince you that your life is of interest to others or that you have an important message to share, then ask yourself, “If I had a chance to talk with a deceased relative about his or her life, would I want to?” I think most of us would. I wish I had asked my grandfather who passed away at the age of 93 about his experiences as a missionary, requiring him to leave behind a wife and three young children. I wish I could talk with my dad about his wartime memories. I wonder what my great-grandmother’s life was like as a pioneer crossing the praries. 

Just as you have a thirst to learn more about your ancestors, your posterity will want to know about you and the life you have lived. Legacy writing provides a bond between generations, a rope to guide us through the difficulties that life may deal us, and a thread interwoven into our DNA that helps us to better understand who we are. 

Remember, “Your legacy is more than the fame or fortune you may have acquired, it is the life you have lived.”



Lynda Fisher is the author of Your Legacy, Your Life and I Wish You Happiness. She created the Memory Circle program to help others capture their memories and family stories in a fun and motivating group setting.