Thoughts On Leaving A Legacy
One of my favorite songwriters is Joni Mitchell. For the younger people who might not know who she is, here is her short bio:
Roberta Joan "Joni" Mitchell CC is a Canadian singer-songwriter. Drawing from folk, pop, rock, and jazz, Mitchell's songs often reflect social and environmental ideals as well as her feelings about romance, confusion, disillusionment, and joy.
Whenever I had something on my mind as a teenager, I would retreat to my room and put Joni’s songs on and listen to her wise words. These days I have a multitude of things on my mind and the lyrics from her song, "Both Sides Now" resonate with me as I face my life with stage 4 breast cancer. These lyrics also have given me pause to think about how my family can remember me.
"But now it's just another show
You leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know
Don't give yourself away"
Leaving my legacy
Yes, I hope my family will remember me with laughter and joy. Despite my diagnosis, I can be spontaneous and impromptu. Often, I like to dance and sing about the house. When I feel joyful, I just find myself bursting into some random show tune or one of my favorite songs. My biggest fans are my granddaughters. They love to dance and sing, and at ages 2 and 3, I think they are emulating me. What a happy time despite the clouds that linger! Yes, Joni, I will leave them laughing when I go.
Most of us with MBC hope to live a long time and we live in a great time of discovery. I believe there are many wonderful targeted therapies and new treatments on the horizon not to mention the many alternative ways to heal oneself. For most of my life, I have journaled and have made many books (online) for special occasions for family and friends. It is a wonderful way to reflect on the richness of one’s life. Gratitude can flow for the love and all the good times you have been given. When you look at your memories, you might pause and say to yourself, “Yes, today is a gift”. Even though I face the unknown, today is a gift! So, let’s celebrate it.” My hope is to create a memory book for my family and the purpose of the book is to bring laughter and joy to those I love.
If you don’t have the energy to make a book, there are many photography centers that will help you accomplish. I find myself taking pictures of ordinary and extraordinary days.
Consider making a memory box. These boxes can be filled with letters from your children when they were very young, school projects that had meaning, and more memorabilia as they grew to be teenagers. Diplomas and certificates, wedding invitations, baby announcements, and special items you want them to cherish. Depending on who will be receiving this special box, there are so many things you could include. The items should be “thoughtful” and “intentional”. If you do not have children, consider including items that capture the "essence" of your life and spirit.
To begin, simply take pen to paper and leave a handwritten note. Think about the people who are most important and begin writing if you think this is what you might enjoy.
Some people never get a chance to leave a legacy due to extraordinary circumstances like dementia or sudden death. A “Legacy Letter” is something to think about.
The writer of this article is currently 66 years old and the legacy I leave is still in process. My life has been one of great love. For me, the best legacy (thank you, Joni Mitchell) would be “To Leave Them Laughing When I Go”.
Signing off now, I got to make some memories, take pictures and enjoy life. Memory book, box or letter – all great ways for me to share one great life with those who mean the most.
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on November 5, 2019, Linda passed away. Linda’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.
Do you have an MBC mentor/mentee?