The legacy we leave behind: Life lessons for my sons
Updated: May 30, 2019
For the past month or two I have been following Joey Feek's battle with cancer. I must admit I had never heard of the country music duo Joey and Rory before then but their story, the blog posts that Rory (the husband in the duo) had shared throughout their fight and the media coverage that came as a result of those posts touched me.
Joey unfortunately passed away on Friday leaving behind her loving husband and her 2 year old daughter, who will now grow up without her mother. Luckily for her daughter though Joey's memory and legacy will live through her songs, videos and stories that her family, fans and many others can share with her as she grows up.
All of this however got me thinking about what legacy I will leave for my children and what lessons and values I would want them to always remember, even after I am gone.
With so many negative influences in the world, it is easy for people to lose sight of what is truly important in life. At some point I will not be there to advise and protect my children and even before the inevitable happens, as a mother, I will have to step back and let my children make their own decisions, their own mistakes and learn their own lessons. I can just hope that the values and principles that my husband and I are trying to instill in them from this very young age remain at the forefront of their minds throughout their lives.
Both of my parents are deceased but they have both left very strong legacies. I learnt a lot from the way in which they lived their lives, their interactions with people and their general beliefs and it is these lessons that guide the way in which I choose to live my life and which I would like to pass on to my own children.
Always pray and trust in God
I grew up with a Roman Catholic mother and an Anglican father, both of whom had a strong belief in God and the power of prayer. Praying does not mean that everything will happen when you want it and how you want it, and it definitely does not mean that everything will be perfect in your life. What it does is give you the strength to deal with what ever comes your way.
Many times what you may want is not necessarily what is best for you. Having a strong faith means that you trust wholeheartedly in God's love for you and will allow him to work in every aspect of your life.
Cherish the time you have with your family
The world has become such a busy place especially as people chase careers, positions, titles, degrees, money and a myriad of other things that have been labelled as "important" or that we have been told determine our success. Our time on earth is temporary and none of us knows exactly how long we have, so use it wisely. Make time and be present with your family (mother, father, sister, brother, spouse, children etc.), not just physically but emotionally.
Be there for all of your children's significant moments; their birthdays, first day at school, recitals, first heartbreak and the many others that will come, first day of college. These moments once they are gone can never be repeated and your children will appreciate that you were present.
Enjoy every moment that you spend with your family fully and make sure that they know the extent of your love.
Work hard and keep learning
My father's popular saying, and attempt at humor, whenever he had to do a motivational speech was "the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary."
You must work hard for what you want in life. The road may not be easy and you may fail a couple of times but keep trying, be persistent. Sometimes failures open your eyes to other possibilities and encourage you to create new and sometimes better objectives for your life.
You must also continue to improve yourself and increase your knowledge. At no point do we ever stop learning and at no point can anyone say that they know everything.
Create your own definition of success
So many definitions of success exist in the world and ideas about when these successes should be achieved.
The career path you follow, your choice of a spouse, where you live, the car you drive, the clothes you wear and so many other frivolous details of our lives have somehow become markers for success.
Instead, strive to experience true happiness and true love.
Strive to make a genuine difference in other's lives and live honestly, with a clear conscience.
Money and the other material aspects of success must never define who you are. As Albert Einstein said "try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value."
Treat others as you want to be treated
The world has become such a hateful place and people have lost all sense of humanity. We judge and discriminate others based on their socio-economic standing, the way they look, their race, nationality, place of residence and often only give if there is something to gain.
We pass the poor with disdain and would rather save a stray dog than give a meal to someone who is genuinely in need. We trample on the backs of others to achieve our own success forgetting that these are the same persons we will have to meet on our way back down.
Be kind to all you meet, show love and compassion to everyone and give without expecting anything in return. You never know if you may one day be on the other side of the fence, dependent on the generosity of others.
These are the values and the legacy that I want to leave with my children. As they grow up and are faced with difficult decisions, challenging situations and have to deal with the world, I hope that they can turn to this list for inspiration and guidance, even when I am gone.