Legacies are left behind

I started thinking about my own Dad and the legacy he left behind for his family. This prompted me to find his memory book...

Yesterday, I had the lovely opportunity to connect with one of my clients over lunch.

One of the greatest gifts I receive in my line of work is having the chance to share life stories, be it theirs or mine. Working with an aging population provides an appreciation to sit and think about life – the good, the bad and as my Dad always added, the ugly.

As I sit and listen to the weaving of a senior’s life events, one word always pops into my head – legacy.

Last night I felt like the mouse in Laura Numeroff’s circular tale If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

I started thinking about my own Dad and the legacy he left behind for his family. This prompted me to find his memory book, which lead to a whole other list of activities, which were not on my “to-do list.”

I remember so clearly the days leading up to his funeral. They were filled with immense sadness and grief.

Yet, those days were equally filled with tributes from friends, colleagues and family. We reminisced over old and recent photographs, untold stories and forever lasting memories about Dad.

It was at that moment, I realized that my Dad meant something different and unique to each of his friends, his children and grandchildren.

As I delved into his life story, his triumphs, his adventure and challenges, his legacy emerged. Not only was this legacy important for us, his children, but just as important for his grandchildren.

My daughter never got to meet her grandfather and yet she reads about his legacy whenever she wants to through a memory book our family created.

As adult children we are quite good at understanding what drives children and young adults — we’ve been there and/or we are raising children traveling through various stages towards adulthood.

But no adult child really knows what it’s like to be 80 or 90 years old.

In fact, most of us are still moving forward in life — getting ahead financially, advancing careers, watching our kids become parents themselves, etc. We are also very task-oriented; making lists, crossing off items, setting goals — just to name a few.

Our aging parents or “grandfriends” are typically on a very different journey.

They are leaving this familiar middle-aged world and starting to take stock of their lives — looking backwards and finding meaning through a life review. They are thinking about how they want to be remembered.

As adult children or family friends, we need to take the time now — before they are gone — to allow our aging parents and grandparents to express themselves through long ago stories, people, places and relationships.

It’s called listening for legacy.

As 2013 comes to an end, why not take an opportunity to ask an elder in your life about what they think their legacy is and create a beautiful and meaningful way to link the past with the present.

If you want more information about creating memory books or legacy project, go to www.legacyproject.org.

Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Solutions. Her column runs in the Comox Valley Record every second Thursday.

Just Posted

Fish farm protest held in Comox

The rally took place on Comox Avenue, concluding at the entry to the BC Seafood Festival

Tales from MusicFest: Women of the Festival

Many sensational female acts at this year’s Vancouver island MusicFest

Washington State man facing murder charges in 1987 killing of Victoria couple

Two counts of aggravated first-degree murder filed against William Talbott II in Snohomish

30 degrees and warmer forecasted with heat wave in B.C.

The weather could stay well into next week, according to Environment Canada

Labour pains: cheap help is hard to find on Vancouver Island

Big Read: high demand for workers, lack of affordable living mean imperfect storm for businesses

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

B.C. NHL prospect expected to make ‘full recovery’ after an incident in Calgary

Jordy Bellerive was injured in a reported house fire Saturday night

BC Lions defensive back Marcell Young levels streaker in home opener

Young hit the fan near one of the 45-yard lines

Police: Taxi driver who hit 8 Moscow pedestrians fell asleep

Two Mexican World Cup fans were among those hit

B.C. VIEWS: Orphans of our urban drug culture neglected again

Child advocate Bernard Richard leaves B.C. with harsh message

From marijuana beer to pot cookies, Canadian companies creating cannabis edibles

Manufacturers think that edibles will do well with users who don’t want to smoke or vape

Privacy lawyer warns against victim blaming in recent sextortion scams

Perpetrators get sexual photos of the victim and threaten to share them with friends and families

QB Jennings leads Lions to 22-10 win over Alouettes

B.C. wins CFL home opener over Montreal

Most Read