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Monday, May 9, 2011

Legacies

How much time do we have left?
To the next tsunami?
To our next vacation?
To the visit from our grandchild?
To the next medical emergency?

All of the above! How much longer before we die? Yes. After sixty, more than at any other time we calculate our life expectancy and the resources we need to make it there.  Yes, the thoughts creep in during a perfectly beautiful day with no pains and no worries. 

Creeping you out yet?

What if today was your last day?
What would you do?
How would you prioritize your day?

My husband would drive to a great restaurant in Napa Valley, California, six hours from where we are, to enjoy his last meal. He'd forgo his diet and even order off the menu . He'll have the best wine and the richest dessert.  He'll continue eating until his last hour.

Me?

I'd fret. I'd want to call my kids, tell them how much I've enjoyed having them, raising them, seeing them all grown and settled. I'll tell them to live their lives fully, to look forward to new adventures wherever and whenever these arrive, to love fully, to worry less. I would write down these last thoughts so they and their future children could retrace these days and find me here on these pages.

I have very few mementos from my parents. I have none of their  letters, and cannot account how they got lost or got misplaced.  We moved so much that many things got displaced.  I miss those words more than anything.

We have these marvelous tools at our disposal: cameras, paper and pens, recording devices for our voices, our faces. These things will become our legacy. Our words will capture  the things we talk about, the issues that kept us up at night. 

Yes, I would write on my last day.

The legacy we leave behind is not our wealth, our possessions.
It is the memories we have of each other; the words and the gestures that molded our lives together.
 

25 comments:

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

Right after my dad died, I read a funny horoscope for my sign that said, "I want you to be like Dennis the Menace, who said,'HEY WAKE UP! Let's go everywhere and do everything!" That's what I want to do.

Dimple said...

You're right about 60 being a milestone. And the recent, sudden death of a friend is another. So how much time do I have left? Only God knows, and all I know is I have today, right now. So I think I will act on that!

Helen said...

I would grab 'YOU' and head off for a dream vacation in Italy!!!

(the trip we had been planning for this summer is not going to happen)

I am still dreaming ....

Patricia said...

Wonderful, thought-provoking post, Rosaria. Yes, as we age our thoughts turn to our mortality...we gradually realize that there is no U-turn on this life's journey. Yesterday, on the local radio station, I heard Michael Josephson on Character Counts talk about the value of an Ethical Will that you write for your family that contains all the lessons of your life that you want to pass on to them. I think this is something from the Jewish Tradition but I believe it is a wonderful idea.

amalia said...

Hallo Rosaria
thank you for your visits on my blog.
Wonderful your post , I think we have to live our life everyday without thinking too much.....

Sightings said...

I think I would write a letter to my two kids. But, honestly ... I don't wanna think about it!

Brian Miller said...

smiles. i agree so much with your close....my last day i would spend it with the ones i love...wonder what would happen if we lived each day as if it were our last?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rosaria .. having just spent 18 hours with my 'well' stroked 90 year old mother - yes you can be described like that - hospital having something replaced that had come out .. I realise the power that blogging has given me - the ability to express myself and the realisation of all those words of others, of photos, of memories etc

My mother mostly has destroyed her papers etc .. I managed to get the photos .. not all - she'd got rid of those too .. but a box of mementos from her first husband (killed in the War) she returned to their family - I have them now .... for future opening - too sad I gather .. but now being part of the blogging fraternity I can see their value to me and to others, if I can tell the tale ..

Each minute gone is a minute less .. if we have no restrictions live now - if we have to be with others .. take the opportunity to learn from the situation ..

Oh & Helen .. please collect me on the way .. stop over in London ..

Cheers Rosaria .. and Helen hope you get a break somewhere else .. I'm not ready yet! See you all around .. Hilary

MerCyn said...

I think the biggest thing that changes when you reach a certain age is a realization that you can't keep putting everything off until tomorrow. It is time to do whatever you can today. Otherwise we will be too sick, or weak, or tired, or gone...

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Another lovely post, Rosaria. Very thought provoking. Like you, I think I would write messages to those I love and also call the ones I could. I'd cuddle with my husband and my cats and eat See's chocolates! I'd listen to my favorite music and savour the voices of those I love. This post is a great reminder to live fully every day. I intend to -- except, perhaps indulging in See's chocolates. I'd only do that if I absolutely knew the end was near!

Arkansas Patti said...

Since you would be writing, I'd join your husband and eat all forbidden, heart stopping pleasures and washing it down with a really fine wine and laughter.
As for all the other, I hope I have all ready covered those bases for 24 hours would be now where near sufficient time.
Blogging has been a wonderful tool to get all things needed said off our chests and recorded.

Marguerite said...

As my ex mother-in-law used to say, "we're all just passing through", but I prefer not to dwell on it. I try to enjoy every day and look forward to the future, regardless of how long or short it may be. Btw, sixty is the new 50 and so on... :)

potsoc said...

Past 80 you don't count, you live everyday as if it was your last. I don't care how long I still have, just enjoy today and thank God for it.

dianefaith said...

I have been anxious for most of my life. Would the kids be OK? Would my husband's job (or sometimes, mine) hold out? It surprises me now that I'm past 65 that I'm not characterized by anxiety any more. What will be, will be. Now, that might change in a heartbeat. Maybe I'm just in a sweet, short, comfort zone.

ds said...

You are so right: memories are our most lasting legacy. So I guess I'd spend my last day making a memory...

She Writes said...

I would spend the time with someone I love. Not everyone. Someone. Would want to leave a letter for Jane and for those who have meant the most to me in the past year. Would want to ease the pain of loss for those I leave.

Kikit said...

I'd also spend my last day with the people closest to my heart :)

NitWit1 said...

My milestone began a few months before 60 when I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. It was a total shock when my kidney ruptured whie in Texas visiting my father on his 90th birthday.

Since I immediately was granted SS disability, I began to restructure my life in volunteerism with others which I ignored during my career. I sought to solve the puzzle of my biological family, since I was adopted which was a very good life. I found my biological family and have a relationship with them.

As deerest friends die I am reminded of things I need to still do. My husband and I have given significant items and memories to the next generations of our respective families. Only recently have we re-written our wills. I have written my funeral requests. My husband has orally told me, but he must write it down.

We are planning a trip that is not to see family. We never had a honeymoon. It may never happen, but planning is fun.

And I try to be less selfish, and more giving and considerate every day that is left.

THere is a poem that circulated years ago on the Internet called the DASH. It was so popular, the author copyrighted it and it is only available by persmission. Essentially, my legacy is the DASH on my headstone between the birth and death dates.

Simon said...

I would probably do what your hushand would do. The only difference would be to have my wife and friends around ...to share a good bottle of red with. :oD

Maggie May said...

Live each day as though it might be the last!
I don't think I'd want to know the exact day though!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

yaya said...

My nephew was 18 when he passed away in a car accident...my Dad was 56 when he died after a surgery...my Grandma was 94 and died peacefully in her sleep. No way to know when our time is over, so I guess it's best to say "I love you"..."Thank You"...and "please pass the dessert"...I'd hate to pass up the cheesecake and then die! This minute is the only guarantee.

karen said...

We have lost so many friends during the past year, and not many were over 60 either. I wonder what I would do.. and should do right now, actually. Good to remember this sort of thing..

I really enjoyed your earlier post about wetlands and water - this is a topic that is very close to my heart, too. I do worry about the future in this respect, too.

quilterliz said...

G'day Rosaria. Every day we have is a day to be enjoyed, to do something that you have put off, to wear those new shoes that have been sitting in the bottom of the wardrobe waiting for that special occasion, to make amends with friendships that we have let slide and yes, I would be like your husband and go out and enjoy all of that yummy food that I have denied myself in an effort to watch my weight. Take care. Liz...

janis said...

Great post. Made me really think...
I guess I would write a bit, talk a bit, and love a lot. Surround myself with those I love.
Ive started my Hospice training and am studying much about "End of Life" and how I can be most helpful. It has been such an incredible journey so far & as odd as it sounds, I am looking forward to actually start working with the families.
Hopefully, I can assist with some patients prioritizing those last things as well.

Guided Tours Rome said...

Well said and so true. I have a few sentimental things from my grandma, but my favorite things were her words- a lot of which I have in a shoebox from what she put my birthday present in. I don't know what I would do with my time. I suppose, I would just keep on living as if I still had tomorrow.
Sara