Two days ago I had a vivid dream. I was walking through my grandparents home in Pennsylvania. My grandfather was cooking bacon and eggs at the stove. He had a percolator of fresh coffee heated and ready to drink. I could feel the love in the house, see the sunlight streaming through the kitchen window, feel the floor beneath my feet, and could smell the scent of my grandparents in the air. Suddenly, they vanished. I started to mourn and exclaim out loud that “I just wanted to say goodbye!” I woke up feeling my loss once again.
My dream encompassed many overpowering memories of my childhood. That house, for me and for them, was a part of their legacy. That house has been sold at a fraction of its worth. Don’t get me wrong, it sold at market value, but its worth in my heart was so much more. You can’t put a price on your memories. Having that same home to go back to, imagine their presence, put yourself back in those moments by simply standing in the place where it all happened disappears once you depart with physical property.
I mourned for that loss, for all of it and…..
I started to reflect on their legacies in a very pessimistic and dark manner. You work so hard, you buy your home, you build your business, you get old if you are lucky and you lose it all. Your legacy is gone. Everything….just…gone. Maybe you wind up in a nursing home, being taken care of by women who don’t get paid to care enough. And I cried. I cried for them and I cried quite frankly, quite selfishly, for my own future.
Then the sun came up and I realized I was wrong. Legacies are not about money, houses, vacation homes, lack of vacation homes or a bank account to be divided up between family members. Legacies are what we leave for the future. Legacies are our children, our grandchildren, the values we instill in them, the smiles on their faces and the twinkles in their eyes. Legacies are made up of hope and love and happiness. Legacies are the strangers we help, the art we create, the words we write and the laughter we share. Legacies are how we treat one another.
Do not waste your life building up so many material possessions. Spend your life building up your legacies. The impact you have on others and the goodness you spread in this world is the only real impact you can leave behind. My grandmother always says she had many blessings, but she wasn’t talking about money. She was talking about her family and all that was good.
My grandparents legacy? They live in all of us.
And life goes on.
Until it doesn’t.
And does once again.