Thursday, August 11, 2016


there's no stopping time
I read an article recently on isolation and loneliness in care facilities.  The title sounds dreary, but the article wasn't.  In fact, the article intrigued me enough that I've done a little unscientific survey of my own on the question, "What is the one thing in your life you'd like to be remembered for?"
In the article, this question was posed to lonely residents as a means of giving them connections, a history, an identity.  One woman wanted to be remembered for the hundreds of mitts and socks she'd knit and donated to a children's hospital.  One wanted to be remembered for her chocolate chip cookies.  Small things, but they were a glimpse into the lives of people who were losing their ability to participate in the community at large and who felt lost and forgotten.  Using this question, the staff at the care facility were able to restore a sense of value and individuality to their patients.

I've often attended funerals where the eulogy presented a vibrant, adventurous, accomplished person whom I'd never met.  I only knew the shrunken old lady who needed a walker -- not the one who won a provincial water-skiing competition.  So, I thought I'd ask the question now, while the subjects were still around to answer.  Here's a sample of the results:

  • a retired civil servant wanted to be remembered for his honesty with public money
  • a former nurse wanted to be remembered for her compassionate care
  • one man wanted to be remembered for his loyalty to family and friends
  • a music teacher said his students liked to come to lessons, even when they weren't very good musicians!
  • a woman said God had given her a joyful heart and she wanted to be remembered for bringing that joy to everything she did
  • one wanted to be remembered as a dedicated nurse
  • another saw herself as a problem solver

For me, the interesting thing about the question is that people found it hard to answer.  To begin with, I got the "good mom, loving husband," kind of answers, but when people dug a little deeper, they tended to come up with character traits, not accomplishments.  No one said he wanted to be remembered for how much money he made or even how many books she wrote.  :-)

Not to be morbid, but thinking about the legacy we leave is a good way to examine the life we lead now.  If we want to be remembered for honesty and kindness and generosity and hospitality and goodness, we need to practice them now.  

So now I pose the question to you, dear readers.  When you can't speak for yourself, for what one thing do you want to be remembered?

Alice Valdal lives in British Columbia Canada.  She has just returned from a large family reunion where the question of legacy was top of mind.  Her forebears were farmers.  They left a strong understanding of the value of hard work, of generosity, of family and doing-it-yourself. 

Visit her at www.alice or at!/alice.valdal.5 

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