In a previous article, we explored some challenges that often surface when engaging in a tough conversation with an older adult. Those challenges include: autonomy, independence, and even dignity. Here we examine yet another challenge: an older adult’s legacy. Not financially, but how others remember them after they have passed. [Read more…]
The Legacy Effect
When I got my first job, my training officer told me that the only thing that mattered for me personally was my name. How could that be? I thought I was something special with my college degrees and other qualifications. But he was right. What primarily mattered as far as assignments and advancement were concerned was my name, that is, how I was perceived.
The sight or sound of our name inevitably evokes a memory or a host of memories about us. And those memories in most people’s minds constitute our legacy. Wherever our feet have trod, our voices heard, and our actions felt, we have left behind a fragment of our legacy.
It seems the older I get, the more conscious I become about my legacy, i.e., how I will be remembered. Not just after I die, but now as well.
Another thought that occupies my mind is why did I wait until recently to become conscious of how I am and how I will be remembered? Shouldn’t I have considered this earlier in my life?
Finally, I wonder what the world would be like if all of us held that one thought – How will I be remembered? – in our consciousness day in and day out? What if we became “legacy- conscious”? What difference would it make in our behavior, in how we relate to others, in our decisions, and the actions we take?
As a family mediator this is especially important when it comes to family quarrels and disputes. When differences arise, when people are hurt, when a rupture occurs, what will be the legacy effect on our children, or our parents, or other family members?
Indeed, how will our lives be different if we factor in the legacy effect the next time we have a disagreement, or an opportunity to make a constructive difference? Is merely the awareness of our power to affect how we’ll be remembered enough to make us act differently and more positively toward each other?
Again, I want to acknowledge the author David Solie for his commentary on legacy in “How to Say It To Seniors”, especially Chapter Ten “Discovering Organic Legacy.”