Ten Things of Thankful 173 (Legacy) #10Thankful

This month has had half a foot in the hereafter…this week in particular.

Muddled into question marks hanging over my future, and consistent over-thinking about my past, the week stood out – its general unremarkability contrasted with the surreality of a day of commemoration. 

We bid a final farewell to my Nana’s bodily form, scattering her ashes beneath a pine tree in the crematorium grounds, juggling myriad emotions about her life, her passing, and a faintly hysterical relief the wind was blowing away from us. We scattered rose petals, which fell in curls of soft pink, magenta, and butter-yellow, rendering the stark swathe of grey a little gentler, a little more beautiful. We laid flowers from the garden atop the petal-specked grey, remembering my Nana’s love of her garden, as well as celebrating that we could bring her something lovely from ours.

WonderAunty read out a beautiful Irish blessing, commending the comings and goings of life to a God believed to have our best interests in mind, who cares enough to notice each to and fro, of geography or of heart.

We took photos of the site, trying to frame it beautifully whilst missing out the macabre brick chimneys of the crematorium itself, and calling to one another over the traffic noise of the nearby motorway. We want to recall where it is, to visit in future, and eventually find ourselves returned to dust in a family pile, under the cone-bedecked limbs and patchy skies.

We murmured our last goodbyes to her physical remains, and I wondered whether we had really said our goodbyes to her in spirit, or whether (as it always had done) the memory of her presence would continue sufficient to provoke a response. I quietly suspect there will be Nana-related tangles to navigate in future, for she has already proven in death (as in life) to be able to complicate matters.

Her legacy may yet prove to be fond memories underscored with exasperation.

It set me thinking about what I’m going to leave behind.

Materialistically, not a lot. My Biggest Best, is an original painting by a Devonshire artist, which I fell in love with and have never once regretted splashing out on. It is bright and glorious (and glittery) and brings joy to the heart. All else is piecemeal: books, jewellery which is worthless, but priceless to me because of who gave it, more books, clothes which can return to the charity shops from whence they came, the component parts for glitterbombs, a folder of DVDs, and my laptop…which contains perhaps the most understated treasure – things I’ve written.

I don’t even know where I’m going to die. I mean, I know none of us do, but with my hoped-for move to America, I wonder whether someday in future, Niece and Neff will be the astonished recipients of money left in a will by an aunty who died too distantly to be known or really mourned. They’ll get to live one of my childhood dreams (I didn’t want anyone I loved to die, but I was immensely fond of the idea of inheriting money from a mystery relative I’d never known and could therefore never miss – a kid’s fanciful quick-fix to low-income life, perhaps), and I rather like that idea.

I wonder whether my ashes will be scattered in an unknown corner of the New World, expatriated and excluded from their piece under the pine tree, mixed with forbears. I wonder whether, by the end of my life, I will have come full circle back to the temperate climate and tempestuous history of England. I wonder whether, when my turn comes to die, the family will have turned a different corner with the younger generation and become unrecognisable, or whether the qualities and values which seem so steeped in Now-us, will have taken root in new hearts and psyches, and will continue.

Unless something remarkable happens, I suspect Maya Angelou’s wisdom on becoming ‘passed’ will befit me – no-one will remember what I looked like, what I said, or what I did. It won’t matter if I spent my life trying to feel thin enough to not feel Less Than. It will make no difference whether I made a habit of over-indulgence. The things I achieved will have disappeared under piles of more recent, more relevant history. Moments and places shared will have altered beyond recognition. My words will have drifted on tides of time and become lost in the molecules of the universe, and the places where I’ve written will gather cobwebs from tiny bit-spyders, and eventually some joker might consider it amusing to trace their finger through the dust of my thoughts “01001100 01101001 01111010 01111010 01101001 00100000 01110111 01100001 01110011 00100000 01101000 01100101 01110010 01100101”.

I should pay heed to the latter part of Angelou’s words, though – that people will remember how I made them feel.

They might treasure the ways I made them feel loved, special, important, cared about. They will recall if they felt respected, admired, encouraged. They might retain memories of warmth, brightness, cosiness, and being comfortable with me. I hope so, but the inverse also applies. I must beware the ways they might brood over slights, neglects, abandonments; their recollections of lies, let-downs, or ill-treatment. I must consider that they might brood over ways they feel I did them wrong, upset, or angered them.

I don’t want people to remember me with bitterness, and I would like them to remember me as someone they experienced as kind and loving. It seems too simplistic to intimate that in this case I should alter my behaviour in order to only give others the very best of me, for all common wisdom speaks to how it’s impossible to please everyone, and disingenuous to try.

a-legacy-of-love-summat2thinkon-wordpress-com

What matters to me most, in the end, is love.

Love is all the things I hoped it would be, when it’s done right, even though I hold myself as no kind of paragon of getting it right. It is patient, kind, gentle, generous, warm-spirited, helpful, humble. It honours, it rejoices in good, it is truthful and hope-filled. It perseveres beyond anything we could think possible, and gets passed down in legends, inspiring countless generations to seek its glories and imbue their hearts with its light. It is one of the most basic human emotions and simultaneously is the pinnacle of them all.

Love, now I’ve learned HOW to express it, to appreciate it, and am in the process of honing it, is WONDERFUL. Heartbreaking, sometimes, but wonderful. Something which drives me to distraction, to despair, to the brink, but something I would never want to be without, for even on my darkest days and in my worst relationships, it somehow, somewhere, finds something to redeem.

SHE taught me love - summat2thinkon.wordpress.com

I have people around me who live (or try to live) and love this way. I’m so fortunate to have their example, their role-modelling, and their love, to experience first-hand how glorious it is to be on the receiving end of it. I’m thankful for their encouragement, their support, and their advice, as I try to learn to live in a manner which I feel best suits me – a manner which acts towards others with love, and leaves them feeling glad they know me.

And so in order to leave a legacy I’m happy with, I shall have to learn how to treat people – all people – through a mindset of loving-kindness. Through deciding that whatever their behaviour towards me, my response will be chosen according to my principles rather than reactive emotions. I will need to learn to watch myself ‘behind closed doors’, in order to maintain integrity.

I need to learn more about boundaries, respect for individuality, dignity, personality. I need to learn to keep myself safe, establish clear mental parameters, set limits, love safely.

I shall have to learn better consistency, diplomacy, intimacy. I want to learn how to make people feel worthwhile, valued, cherished. I want to get better at taking others into consideration, at understanding where they’re coming from, at dismissing the ‘trappings’ and seeing through to the heart of the matter – to what matters.

I need to learn to love myself, as I am, in the same way I would expect to love others as they are, but with always a hope for improvement and the knowledge there is room for it.

It sounds like a massive undertaking, but so worthwhile. I’m learning and practicing every new day, and I hope I shall have many more years to get it right, though I readily acknowledge I’ll probably continue to get it wrong a lot of the time.

But I’m determined to try – it would be *wonderful* to be remembered for love.

What would you like to be remembered for? Have you ever wondered about life, whilst commemorating its passing? Who makes you thankful to be alive and learning? Join in with the Ten Things of Thankful hop, or Finish the Sentence Friday, which this week looks at ‘legacy’.

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41 thoughts on “Ten Things of Thankful 173 (Legacy) #10Thankful

    • *hugs*

      It’s ok. I’m just AWOL at the moment, from everything. I can’t bring myself to write. I just feel too tired, too uninspired, too…unable to improve on my silence. So I’m not.

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  1. Pingback: * A Legacy | Teachezwell Blog

  2. As usual, you have expressed so much emotional depth, and on a powerful legacy, that I have to take a breath and pray that the desires of your heart will be granted. I, too, fantasized about inheriting a small fortune from a mysterious relative. 🙂 Beautiful photographs align with beautiful writing! As I near the statistical likelihood of death, I am grateful that the Lord has secured my forever future. I think we will be surprised by what really counted in this life. It will surely be the love we shared with others and the greatest Love that made it possible for us to do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, my dear. I hope your prayer and my wish will come to reality in glorious fashion. I feel as though I’m getting there.

      SO GLAD I’m not the only one to dream of inheriting a large amount of money from someone for whom the loss didn’t impact me! It sounds so selfish now, but it seemed like such an obvious way to make life better…

      I think love will be a big part of the ‘building with gold and silver’…goodness knows I’ve built enough with wood and mud (and will continue to, I’m sure!). I’m grateful for your faith, and for the reminders you give so often that it’s a lovely thing to have one ❤

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  3. Sorry about your Nana, Lizzi. Death gives us the opportunity to ponder our lives. You certainly wrote a “from the heart” piece. Your desire for a legacy of love and they way you want to get there, could be my words (except they wouldn’t be so eloquent). #LoveWins

    Liked by 1 person

    • ❤ OceanHeart, I'm glad we're so alike in this. I hope we both manage it. I think we're both probably further along the way to it than we think. Well. I hope so, anyway.

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  4. I’m reading your post at the end of the day and am thinking how wonderful it is to read such inspiring words and to feel the goodness of your heart. You express your thoughts and aspirations in such a way that I would hope anyone reading your message would hope to embrace similar traits.
    I’m so sorry about your Nana. Those memories of her will always be with you and will filter in and out of your own thoughts now and then. Often that veil between the existence here and there is so very thin at times. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Pat. I really appreciate your thoughts and feedback. I suspect the people who read what I write here *are* people who would embrace similar traits…I suspect I’m preaching to the choir, in that sense. I wish I could think of a way to get my words further ‘out there’ to reach the people for whom they perhaps sit less comfortably.

      You’re right about the veil of existence. I think the same goes for geography. As long as we carry people in our hearts, they live with us, and that matters a lot.

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  5. A truly lovely post with peace and wisdom flowing through it. I think to be remembered for love is perhaps the best memorial of all. If we attempt to live that way, not only will we be remembered kindly, but all of those we encounter while we still live will be blessed by our presence. It is a daily work in progress, and I think one we would all do well to take up! Thank you for the reminder to respond through they eyes of love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, thanks Josie 🙂 I hope I remember each day that it COUNTS to be mindful and try to act lovingly, bearing in mind the legacy I want to leave. Today I’ve kind of shirked it and not done so well. I really like the idea that living to leave a legacy of love is a blessing in the present, too 🙂 A double win 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Again, I am so sorry for your family’s loss of your Nana. I do believe those we love remain with us, inside us always. I do. Cherish that – exasperation and all.
    You are wiser than you know and this particular post speaks volumes to that. To be remembered for love and for good is a grand thing to which we can aspire and I think that you are well on your way. Do like Kristi already said – do it for you first and the rest will come. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gah. Doing it for me is just gonna hold everything up. I have a real mental block with that one, but I’m getting on mostly quite well with the rest of it, I think 🙂

      I’m glad you think I’m wiser than I know. I have so many very wise people who I know and love, and I’d be very pleased if some of their wisdom has begun to rub off on me.

      And yeah – she will be cherished, eye-rolls and all. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful Lizzi, and I am so sorry for the loss of your Nana. You wrote of the scattering of ashes so beautifully that I can visualize a framed photo.

    That is a great quote from Maya Angelou and yes we need to take heed to our reactive emotions because those effects are lasting – people will remember how you made them feel. At the same time we must be true to ourselves so we don’t become bottled up replicas of ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kenya, I wondered about that too – how to not just bottle up the negative things and pretend they don’t exist, because I know that’s not a good way forward either. And just focusing on the positive, well I’ve already been called a hypocrite for that, and I’m keen not to come across as disingenuous. I guess so much depends on perspective and what’s going on in other people’s lives as well. It’s a muddle, that’s for sure.

      I think in order to best follow Maya Angelou’s advice, I need to be mindful that each person is unique and wonderful in their own way, and try to respond from a place of respect for their very humanity, whilst maintaining an awareness of my reactive emotions and the situations which have led to them being that way. I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that the people I struggle with are still worthy of respect and being treated pleasantly by me, if for no other reason than I don’t want their behaviour to turn me back into someone who behaves atrociously, like I used to a long time ago.

      So glad you like what I wrote, and thanks for your thoughts. They made me think 🙂

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  8. What a beautiful tribute to your wonderful Nana, Lizzi!! I could visualize exactly what you were all doing thanks to your amazingly descriptive words!! ❤️💜 You are still “with us” and you’ve already left a legacy and an incredible love-imprint in this earth! 🌏

    Love you to pieces, Honeybee! 🌹❤️💜😍

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awwwwh Honeybee that’s a GORGEOUS compliment, thank you so much. I really hope you’re right and that my legacy has already begun. I want to make it bigger and better and more wonderful, and I know there are changes I can make in myself to help that happen, and I think I need to find ways to address those changes, but…all in good time. I’m getting there. I think. ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

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  9. I was sorry to hear of your loss.

    This is beautifully written and thank you for sharing your words – and your thoughtfulness AGAIN – with all of us here on the interwebs.

    I think you’ll be remembered for these kindnesses and this thoughtfulness by many of us.

    Love this.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This. THIS is utterly beautiful. Oh Lizzi, beloved friend… Your words are gorgeous and your message powerful. You exude love and I too, join you in working toward this magnificent goal. ❤

    Sharing this everywhere, because I believe EVERYONE needs to be MOVED by your heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ohhh bless your boots my lovely Kitty – I’m so glad you like this, and HOORAY! I hope I’m getting the hang of exuding love, and I must note that I think you’re one of my inspirations for loving out loud, because you do it SO WELL! Really amazingly well. ❤ I do love you ❤

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  11. As always, you write beautifully. And that beautiful, lovely, loving writing comes from a beautiful, lovely, loving source–you! No need to worry about your legacy. You are living it already.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think you’ll be remembered for love. Also? The whole inheritance from a never-known relative who knew about you? NOT a poverty thing – I think real, for all of us, who’ve read too many stories in real or in fiction to know it sometimes happens. But also, sometimes, the money makes those people worse, so there’s that. Loved the imagery of you with the piles of ashes before with the tree.
    Also when you say “I want to learn how to make people feel worthwhile, valued, cherished.” Um hello. Do that for you first. The rest will come, I swear forever a bazillion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heheh I dunno – I wonder if people rich enough not to worry about money just wouldn’t think of it, or at least not in the same way. It wouldn’t have the same kind of ‘rescue’ quality to it 😉

      I hope I’ll be remembered for love. I’m determined to get the hang of somehow loving myself but I think it’s going to be a lifetime’s work. SO much easier to cherish, value, and find the worth in others. Easy peasy there! But I’ll keep trying 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. To be remembered for the good we have done and the love we have given is the greatest blessing. To twist the Shakespearean phrase, “to have our mistakes interred with our bones,” would be nice too. Lizzi, keep touching people the way you do and I don’t think you need to worry about how you will (a long, long time from now) be remembered. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • HA! I like that! The Bard was a wily one alright! Maybe that could go on my gravestone (if I have one) – “Mistakes buried here”

      I will keep trying to make connections and love as much as I can 🙂 And thank you ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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