Sunday, March 3, 2013

What Is Your Legacy?

Lessons From Imperfect Fathers
Dad, me, Art, Mom

  My father wasn’t perfect—he drank too much and smoked unfiltered cigarettes and died too soon. However, these aren’t the moments I recall. Much of the goodness in me and my family is the direct result of him.

  He adored my mother. I remember him coming home from work and we kids would crow for his attention. We received our hugs and kisses, but then he got to mom. He’d hold her in the kitchen and they’d hug and smooch—none of us existed in that moment. Their love came first.

  His interests centered on his boat—and the boat meant family time. We spent summers sailing the Long Island Sound, picnicking on sandbars, fishing off the boat and cruising. 
Bob, Dad, Janine, Alan
He consciously taught me not to smoke by showing me the tar his cigarettes produced. He’d arrive home from work at the same time daily. The great joy of my life was to “surprise” him by walking the half-mile to the main road to meet him.
These are  heirlooms I can finger, joys that play out in my life today.

Little details of my life show my father’s impact. My love of reading, Of classical music. Of learning.
 As our lives near their finales, what will our legacy be? None of us are perfect--but all our foibles will blur if:
  • We make amends for the wounds we inflicted on those we love.
  • We share the things we enjoy most in the world.
  • We spend time with real humans in the real world rather than playing with our media or pursuing our passions alone
  • We understand humans matter, not jobs or goals or pasttimes.
What do you hope your legacy to be?

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Deborah Dee Harper said...

Carol, what a lovely post! Thanks for reminding me that we can consciously impact how others remember us.


Courtney Pierce said...

Agree! Terrific post. For every one thing we give now to help others we get back three-fold. even after we're gone.


Carol McClain said...

Thank you Deborah and Courtney. It's also a reminder, that despite our foibles, we can positively impact someone else.

Unknown said...

I would hope my legacy would be my children being people of integrity.

J.B. DiNizo said...

What a wonderful post! Thank you! We do leave our footprints in this world, don't we?

Unknown said...

Great post, Carol! I miss my parents every day.

Carol McClain said...

Kevin, JB and Ed, thanks so much. And a lot of our legacy is in how those we love choose to remember us and in what the choose to forget.

Donna B said...

Beautiful! I have memories like that of my dad also, and my mom as she fades away with dementia. Precious!

I pray that my legacy will be of remembered love in things I said and did. Love always wins out over mistakes. I pray the love is what's remembered.

Liz Flaherty said...

This is a wonderful post.

Carol McClain said...

Thank you Liz and Donna. I'm glad I was able to encourage you.

Gail Kittleson said...

Really enjoyed reading this snapshot from your childhood, Carol. What a great role model your father was in many ways-and your writing in honor of him is quite the tribute.

Bless you,

Gail Kittleson

Claude Forthomme said...

Great post, Carol, thanks for sharing...I recognized my own father in what you're saying about yours. May be a generational aspect? Who knows...But fathers, even imperfect ones are so important for their daughters!

What our own legacy will be? Who knows...a good one I hope but it's not for us to say!

Carol McClain said...

Claude and Gail, your comments bless me. In my writing journey, my prayer is to help others. Thanks.