Recently I was asked “to recall a legacy–anything tangible or intangible, large or small–that I received from someone who cared about me.” I immediately recalled how my parents created a culture of healthy debate within my family. Around the dinner table, we learned how to disagree, without being disagreeable. We were taught to question and understand, along with a healthy dose of empathy.
Thankfully, the things my parents taught us helped my siblings and I navigate their care. We certainly had disagreements, and early on put in some rules to help us that I share in a prior post on Caregiving and Siblings.
We never second-guessed that we should step in and help, and after recognizing we were losing our parents, agreed that we didn’t want to lose each other along the way. I know we were very lucky.
The journey as a caregiver allowed me to share an extension of this legacy with my own children. They have seen me care for, and navigate some very difficult times. Some things we shielded from them, other things I had no way to hide. They have seen me work with my siblings, heard us argue, and watched us overcome disagreements and work together.
This past weekend, my siblings came to town and we went through the last few boxes of our parent’s belongings.Before we began the process of taking turns to divvy-up items, we asked if there was something very important to any one of us. When it came time to go through the last of the silver, I spoke quickly and told my siblings the silver candlesticks that sat on the dinner table were very important to me. Without any hesitation, my siblings all told me they were mine. They were not the most valuable of items, but represent a lasting legacy my parents left me and I hope to continue to share with my kids.
I can’t wait to get downstairs and polish them. Excited.
P.S. Thank you to my siblings and their spouses for helping clear out the final boxes of my parent’s possessions. At the end of the weekend, I felt like a barrier in my grief was lifted as we found loving homes for the last of their belongings. My job as caregiver for my parents has officially ended.