We hear it said so often that our children are our legacies. I was vividly reminded of that as I listened to my nephews talk about their father at his memorial service. Each of the three young men spoke about the life lessons they had learned from their father: taking responsibility for your actions, telling the truth, making your mistakes right, and so on. He taught them those lessons by the way he lived, not just by what he preached to them. I know first-hand that through the years they have not always appreciated the lessons their father tried to teach them. I also know that he was not a perfect man, nor a perfect parent. He was a real human being, subject to the foibles and mistakes that condition brings. However, his sons sifted through all of those imperfections and found the golden nuggets in his parenting. They will be able to carry that wisdom with them forever. Tucked in the midst of their memories of their father - the often-repeated funny stories and the family vacations and the wrecked cars and the major mess-ups and the minor irritations - will shine those golden nuggets of his wisdom. That will be his proudest legacy.
I am a parent, too. So now I am wondering if I am in the process of building the legacy I someday hope to leave. While my sons were young boys, did I show them by the way I lived that I valued integrity, honesty, godliness, responsibility, and family? I am sure that I preached those things, but did I live them? Even now, in the busy-ness of everyday life, am I showing my grown children the traits I feel are so important for them to develop in their lives? It is a sobering thought that as I live my life, so my children will live theirs, and maybe so will my grandchildren live theirs. I fervently hope that my children will be able to sift through the rubble of my mistakes, my shortcomings, my less-than-perfect parenting, my poor decisions, and find the golden nuggets of the legacy I wish to leave behind me. My job as a parent is to make it very easy for them to know what values I want to leave with them tomorrow by the way I live my life today.