“Generations are not counted in numbers but by what we pass on.” – Susan Karcher
As I write this blog Susan and I are fresh off a nine-day vacation on the beautiful Hawaiian island of Oahu with our two daughters and Susan’s mother (aka Grandma). We were initially drawn to this island to celebrate a niece’s wedding but that was really just the excuse I needed to return. It doesn’t take much for me to say yes to a trip to Hawaii. This gathering of islands has yet to disappoint me. And the same was true of this trip … they had me at aloha!
This was a special trip for Grandma. She was born in the Philippines but moved to the island of Oahu after the Japanese invaded the Philippines in World War II. Grandma’s parents fled their home country with her in tow and nothing to their names other than the clothes on their backs. They started life all over. It was not easy but a new life they made.
Grandma stayed on Oahu until the age of 18 when she left for the mainland. Before this trip she had only returned to Oahu once in the ensuing 60 years, and that was over 50 years ago. It has long been a life goal of hers to “go home” once more before her time here on Earth comes to an end.
Grandma had the time of her life. I don’t think she stopped smiling once. She reminisced, shared stories, taught us some history, and soaked in all of the aloha she could. It was amazing to be there with her.
When our trip was over, Susan and I separately asked each of our daughters what their favorite part of the trip was. Hawaii is amazing in so many ways so surely we thought they would mention the people, or maybe the aloha lifestyle. Perhaps they would mention the natural beauty, the balmy evenings, the food, or all the plumeria trees. And yet, none of these things were the best part of the trip for either of the girls. Well, what was?
“It was Grandma!”
That’s right. They loved their time with Grandma the most. They loved watching her laugh, hearing her life stories, and learning of how her deep faith got her through an often difficult life. This is as it should be … the older generations sowing into those that follow. In our book, Who Are the Joneses Anyway?, Susan wrote this segment:
“Family reunions can be fun and revealing events in our lives. Perhaps you’ve heard the volume of conversation in a room drop as the matron or patron of the family begins to speak. We listen intently to their stories, their memories, and the experiences that shaped their lives, and the entire family. We learn through their stories, filled with rich history – where we came from, where we are headed, and how significant an impact each generation has on our families. Their words weave a beautiful canvas of vibrant colors that express a history of hard work, challenges, and determination. Combined with the bold colors and images of answered prayers, triumphs, and victories, their life lessons will carry our families through trials and more for generations to come. This is a terrific image of legacy – a picture of what those who have gone before have left for those of us who come after.”
If you’ve read our book (this is where you order it if you haven’t), you know that Susan and I have not always been on the right path in this area but we believe we now are. While it took us a while to go through what we call our “Joneses Journey” and understand the importance of legacy, we are now committed to living in a way that sounds a lot like the way Grandma is living. We are making a difference by sharing all we are and all we have with our families and the world around us.
What about you? You have the opportunity, and I would add – the responsibility, to fashion your own picture for those who come after you. What daily images are you painting with your life? What impact are you making? Are you living a legacy of faith, family, generosity and other great values, or are you leaving behind memories you would rather not be remembered for? It’s your choice. Pick this day which it will be.
Blessings on your continuing journey,
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