If you’ve been around my email list for awhile, you know that my mother-in-law passed away in the fall of 2022 and handling her complicated estate became an all-consuming task that put my writing on hold.
Well, I’m so happy to report that we’re nearing the end of that journey with the sale of her house being the last big item on the list. (And it seems like we already have a buyer lined up, so…whew!)
However, in the process of cleaning out dressers, desks, closets, and especially her flooded basement, we came across a TON of loose photos and memorabilia. I shoved them all into a couple giant plastic tubs to deal with later.
And then later arrived.
If you check out the photo, you can see the three albums I created that compile multiple generations of genealogy, treasured love letters from my in-laws’ courtship, and family photos through the years. It was a labor of love to organize and preserve it all for my husband’s sake. But mostly for my children.
(Side note: Oh, so many interesting stories in those pages. Including a Revolutionary War connection, a Civil War veteran who helped build Fort Collins just an hour north of where we currently live, and even a great-uncle who died in Normandy during WWII.)
However, there was more to process from her house than the photos.
If you’ve ever emptied out a relative’s house, you know the difficulty that comes in deciding what to keep and what to let go.
Beyond claiming a few pieces of nicer furniture or appliances, the decision came down to asking what that person was most remembered for.
My father-in-law was a disabled veteran who raised and showed quarter horses. His father had also loved horses but after retirement had dabbled in stained glass work.
So, we now have a few select items on display to remember them by.
My mother-in-law was an amazing cook, so her recipes are in my kitchen. Along with a few of her dishes and kitchen implements.
The process reminded me of when my paternal grandparents died and I chose a few items from their house to represent my memories. My grandmother loved to sew and read. My grandfather loved the ocean and deep sea fishing. Hence the lighthouse, shell candles, and a couple shadowbox/hangings that captured the emotion of my memories with them.
On the other side, I have some of my maternal grandmother’s embroidery and my grandfather’s WWII history books. (He served in the Navy and had spent time in Pearl Harbor after those pivotal events.) My mother has his old Bible.
Which is a very long way to bring me to my thoughts today about leaving a legacy behind…
What will I be remembered for? What would my children and (future) grandchildren pick to represent my life?
I’d like to say it would be books–either ones I wrote or in general the fact I loved to read. I’d hope a love of music would also be at the top of their minds.
But I mostly pray they remember my faith. My reliance on God in the difficult times. That they would treasure the notes I’ve written in the margins of my Bible.
I think that’s part of why I picked the word “Faithful” for 2024. Because I want to be intentional about the mark I leave on the next generations.
What about you? What family heirlooms do you treasure? How do they represent your loved ones? How do you want to be remembered? What are you doing to leave that type of legacy?