01 May Preserving Our Legacy of Love
is author of the best-selling book, “Hot Chocolate for Seniors”(winner of national & international awards); winner of Gold Halo Award from the So. California Motion Picture Council for Outstanding Literary Achievement; winner of First Place Excellence in Journalism Award (SPJ –Southern CA); Town & Gown “Phenomenal Woman” Award; former television host & KSPA radio host of “Senior Living at its Best with Jan Fowler”; speaker, contributing author for “Savvy Women Revving Up for Success”; founder of Starburst Inspirations, Inc. 501(c) (3) nonprofit which supports Redlands Drug Court. www.janfowler.com. Jan welcomes feedback and comments about her columns and invites you to leave her a message on her website.
“Preserving Our Legacy of Love”
Whatever you do, please don’t get caught dead without one! This time, it’s not your trust or your will I’m referring to. It’s your memoirs. And by legacy of love, I mean recorded memoirs because we all have a string of lifetime remembrances which we know should be preserved and passed down to our
Don’t we always say it’s the photo albums and heirloom treasures which we should grab first should the house catch on fire? Besides which, memoirs give us a fresh chance to reflect on the many rich moments and special times which we have enjoyed over the years but perhaps have forgotten.
So memories mean the world to us. And documented memories of our history and heritage are irreplaceable.
While having a will and Durable Power of Attorney in place are important, in all good conscience we still can’t face our maker until we’ve properly preserved and passed down our family history and heritage. A will–by comparison–is far simpler to create because an attorney usually does most of the work for us. Not so with keepsake memories, however, for in this area it’s we who must do the work. Only we can select those memorable key events which we feel are worthy of preserving and documenting.
And it’s simply not enough to press photos or programs in albums. It’s important to take the mystery out of “people-pictures” by taking time to label those faces with names; no need to create more puzzles for the family to solve.
Because these projects are such labors of love and have a tendency to spread out and soon take over the dining room table, we often stall and procrastinate, even though deep down we always know it will be worth the effort and greatly appreciated by family. But sometimes finding the right format or method is the biggest stumbling block of all. Should our memories be conveyed through written language, the use of slide shows, visual or audio techniques, by using stitchery, needlepoint or keepsake approaches?
Any way we look at it, we simply can’t die till the job is done. What will our families know about themselves after we’re gone unless we’ve provided them with picture albums, scrap books, journals, historical documents, or even an ancestral tree? And to do it right requires dedication of time, thought, effort, and probably more time. After all, it’s an ongoing responsibility to update memories and keep them in good shape for heirs. So maybe the truth is that the job is never done.
Now please don’t fret for a second if you haven’t already begun to document and record your history. There is still time! Maybe you’ve been well-intentioned but have never managed to find a method which appeals to you.
Remember, you’re not going for the Nobel Prize, so don’t worry about being a perfectionist. The possibilities are endless and there is no one right way to accomplish this. Is it worth all the effort? Absolutely! After all, it’s your story. And certainly no one knows better than you which important facts and chronological markers you want to bequeath to your heirs.
Some people like to use the family bible to document ancestry and branches of the family tree while others choose to preserve old letters or newspaper announcements of births, marriages, death notices, and obituaries. Others tape-record anecdotal stories involving camping trips and vacations whereas some have composed music and songs to celebrate the births of grandchildren.
Many families share such traditions as teacup, spoon, or glassware collections, memory quilts, aged photo frame keepsakes, journals, diaries, needlework or stitchery. Memory books, photo albums, and scrapbooks are always popular methods of recording history, and family heirloom cookbooks with treasured recipes are used by many to thread history together for descendants.
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