I've been thinking a lot lately about my legacy to my grown children. By that I don't mean how much money Paterfamilias and I will leave them--who knows what will be left to leave should PF or I hit a serious-illness streak. I'm thinking more about what I'll leave that lets my grown children and their children know who I was and what was important to me, that little (or big) something that underscores my values, whatever wisdom I have to impart, a sense of the life I've lived.
Being a writer, I've always thought of the written word as my road to legacy. But a recent New York Times story ("In a Maine House, No Room to Waste"), held out a whole other notion. A couple in their 60s--each having grown children from previous marriages--love spending weekends on Mt. Desert Island in Maine, a place where kingfish and heron patrol the mudflats and marshes and development is sparse. When they cross the bridge onto the island and can smell the ocean, the couple said, they "roll down the windows and holler, “Yay!” They eventually went from transient visitors to homeowners: buying and renovating a second home there, being very careful not to enlarge the home's footprint or leave any additional marks of man on the mudflats. It meant a very expensive commitment--to a home, a way of life and the marshy wilderness. They see the house as a way of leaving a legacy. They bought the house, the couple reported, "because we loved this island and we wanted to provide a way for us and our family and the other people we love to live together on this most gorgeous place on earth.”
A living legacy that says a lot about one family's values.