I’m in a thoughtful mood this week. The impact of my mother’s death last year has led me to reflect on many things and I thought that today I would share my thoughts on the subject of legacy.
Having to sort through my mother’s belongings has made me realise what I want to concentrate on leaving behind myself. The things we have valued most from my mother’s bungalow have been precious little things, usually with little monetary value – photographs (although I wish more were labelled), dad’s love letters, artwork and crafts that mom created.
She also kept an autograph book, whose entries date from her teens to the present day in which she would ask friends and family to write sayings and poems. It is a lovely idea and leaves a lasting record. Many of those who wrote in the book have also now died. My mother wrote her memoirs before she suffered with dementia. These handwritten notes will need to be typed up but I haven’t been able to face this as yet.
So how has this experience of sorting mom’s things changed me? I too have embarked upon what I’m calling the legacy project. It will of course mean typing up mom’s memoirs, but I’m also going to write my own. I have begun sorting through things I’ve kept and weeding out the things I no longer need or value. I’m also trying to organise my precious things into a more ordered state.
I have traced our family history for many years now, but I doubt family members would make much sense of my random jottings and files, so I want to write these up too and maybe have enough copies made for family members to have.
I have stressed to my sons that they only need to keep things of mine that mean something to them, the rest can be sold or sent to the charity shop.
My novels, stories and poems and any others that I publish in the years to come will of course leave a picture of me too. When one of my sons said to me the other day, “You always say …”, I realised I will leave another sort of legacy, one of remembered thoughts and values, as indeed has my own mother.
I think it is human nature to try to learn from an experience and I have the intention this year of beginning to sort out my legacy. I have shared these thoughts today in case it prompts you to do the same.
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Interesting thoughts, Morton. It reminds me a little bit of that question, “What would you save if your house was burning down?”
The answer always comes down to the irreplaceable objects with sentimental value.
I wish you all the best with your ‘legacy’ work.
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What a thought provoking post. My dad passed away 5 years ago at Christmas. I have kept a few treasured items of his but most of his legacy lies in the person he was, the things he did and the memories which remain in my heart. But I know what you mean about leaving your own legacy, and typing up your mum’s memoir and researching you family history will be fascinating and emotional projects for you. Hope you get much pleasure out of them.
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