I hear all the time about the importance of the legacy we leave our children; what are we teaching them, and whether our children know where we came from and the hardships and triumphs we’ve experienced during our life. Why does it matter?
I recently went home for my father’s 80th birthday party. His birthday was actually in March, but we wanted to wait until the weather was nicer to have a party at a park for him. Coming from a large Hispanic family, it’s easier to have a big event at a park because we have to accommodate both sides of my family.
I’ve lived away from my family for 28 years. Every time I go home, I notice more and more the aging of my parents, aunts, and uncles. I’m not going to include my cousins because we are all close in age, and I like to think that we’re aren’t aging one bit. But this trip home was special because we were all coming together to celebrate my Dad.
My mom worked on this party for over six months. My mom loves to throw parties and entertain, so she was gearing up for this one! There were over 100 people who came to celebrate my Dad’s 80th. My mom and I surprised him with mariachis, and he was truly shocked. When they started playing, I saw him get emotional. My dad is a very humble man with the biggest heart of any person I know.
The day after the party my parents and I sat around the kitchen table and reflected on the day and everyone that was there, and the fun he had. We talked about my Dad’s heritage, where his parents came from, and the things my Dad has accomplished in his life.
I started thinking about the legacy my Dad has created with his wife, children, and grandchildren. There were over 100 people who came to see him for his birthday. I find that remarkable.
My dad talked about when he retired and how hard that was for him. He wasn’t ready for it. My dad isn’t a “hobby” guy. He doesn’t play golf, watch sports or build toy houses. He has always putzed around the garage, fixing this or that, do a little project here or there, and liked to work, spend time with his family and go to church.
He talked about how he had to step out of his comfort zone and be social. My mom is the social one in our family. My dad was happy to go to something, but he would rather have stayed home and been tinkering in the garage.
But after retirement, my mom kept dragging him to events at the church or with friends, and now they have a large community of people that they interact with. He goes to meet the men from the church for coffee, or they go on weekend trips with friends out of town. My dad is quite the social butterfly in his old age.
So coming back to leaving a legacy and why it matters. At one point or another, we will all leave this life, and we will become a memory to those who know us. It is likely that we will be remembered by those we spent time with, but HOW do you want to be remembered? What stories do you want people to say about you?
Create a life with meaning for yourself and your family. Surround yourself with great people who only make you better. Through the changes in life, look for the silver lining and know that change is inevitable and having a good attitude will make the transitions in life easier. Not all of us will leave a legacy that impacts the entire world. But all of us can leave a legacy that impacts the lives of the people we surround ourselves with.