What’s in a Legacy, Anyway?

green_guyI’ve spent the last two weeks mindlessly wandering. I can’t seem to put one cogent thought with another. I don’t know if this is a normal step in the mourning process. Perhaps, the incredible number of tasks that must be done after the death of a loved one is simply overwhelming me. After all, my brother and I have been left with the responsibility of disposing of my parents’ property and liabilities. We’re kinda new at this. We are listing their condo for sale. It’s not expected to sell for much. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get enough to cover what is still owed on it. There are outstanding medical bills that need to be paid. And, we still have a lot of ‘stuff’…furniture, odds-n-ends, and papers…lots of papers to deal with.

What we’re finding is that my parents had very little in the way of a material legacy. They did not prepare for a secure financial future. And, they certainly didn’t spend time thinking about what they were going to pass on to the next generations. They lived for the present. Some might say they lived ‘in the moment.’ Theirs was a relationship that was devoted to enjoying life with one another. I remember Mom saying that she had some regrets that they had not given more thought to their legacy. She would have liked to leave something more materially substantial. But, by that time it was really too late to begin preparations for that. The best that they could do was to ensure that my brother and I simply split whatever property and assets they had.

My question, is this a bad thing? Should children expect their parents to take care so that there is something to leave as a material legacy? My parents lived for each other and their family. They gave a lot to us while they lived. Not ‘stuff,’ but love and care. They modeled devotion through their relationship. My dad, if nothing else, was loyal to his wife and to us. No, they did not show us how to accumulate things. They certainly did not instruct us in how to stay out of debt and to be ‘fiscally responsible.’ Saving money or spending it on large insurance policies didn’t seem to be a high priority for them. Dad once told me that he and mom made a lot of money…and, they spent a lot of money. For them it was more important to use what they earned to enjoy life.

Yes, I’m losing sleep and focus with all that needs to be done in order to settle my parents’ obligations. And, yes, there won’t be much left when the task in finished. But, maybe…just maybe…there really is more to leaving a legacy than leaving a lot of pictures of a green guy named George lying around.

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