One of the definitions of “Legacy” suggests the meaning is to leave money or property to someone. Having spent my entire life as a nonprofit professional, in the early years of my career, the concept of stacking up wealth or property was just not in the cards for me.  Having raised three sons, and for a while as a single mom, just making it to the next payday was often the main goal. Never in my nonprofit career until my last position had I ever heard of a 401k account, so I guess my definition of a “legacy” will be different than many.

Of course, for my legacy, I’m hopeful that my family and friends will feel something of value was left to them that money couldn’t have bought. To be sure, a fancy car or big house would have been nice – but I sincerely hope what I leave behind will be welcomed and remembered. As I write these words, I recall the words of a family member who had the words “She Tried” placed on her headstone. Perhaps, I did not do the things or demonstrate the things that I perceive I did- but I did try.

I pray that my legacy will be in the way I acted or how I reacted to people. I hoped to model the “Golden Rule.” I wanted to be kind and if I was not, it was never an intentional act of unkindness It is my hope that my family knew and believed with all of their heart that I would never turn my back on them…hoping to demonstrate the gift of loyalty. 

Regardless of the books I failed to read or the bedtime stories I didn’t share, I hope my children learned that every wrong can be forgiven and grudges aren’t worth the cost.  To remember that I tried to look at people and see a person not a color or a level in society. validating the old expression of not judging a book by its cover. 

Know that I acknowledge so, so many mistakes but I am willing to take responsibility, ask for forgiveness and try to do better. I hope that I will leave a gift that says “learn to love yourself as you love others. When you hurt someone, saying I’m sorry is not a sign of weakness. Do not punish yourselves forever for your mistakes, you will miss out on your life if you do. Have standards but not so unrealistic that you might feel you failed if things fall a bit short, your best is enough.

Lastly, I hope to leave my gift of being an endless romantic who believed in “happy endings” and always wanted to believe the glass was half full, not half empty. Family, friends, health, shelter and food is really everything we need in life to be able to say at the end, “I can’t complain, I had a good life.” These things were my mother’s legacy to me and mine to pass on to my loved ones and it can continue to be a legacy when they too pass these things to the next generation. Leaving something behind doesn’t need to be gold or silver, love can be enough and many will think the best gift of all.