They say a writer should always shy away from the outwardly cliche, but perhaps there’s a time and a place to embrace many an old adage. Never much an ambassador for proverbial mastery, producing this issue brought me face to face with a truism that may just be one of the oldest sayings around: “Silence is golden.”
When I first heard its sounds I can’t quite recall. But thanks to a vicious showdown this flu season with a brutal bug that appeared out for blood, my familiarity with the sounds of silence returned once more. Bronchitis and laryngitis may have robbed me of my voice – but in exchange, I gained a rather golden opportunity.
The April issue of Lifestyles After 50 is our annual “Leaving a Legacy” issue, which poses the deep – and difficult question of what exactly you plan to leave behind. For some, it’s a question of how you’d like to be remembered, for others it’s about dedicating gifts of generosity. We probe deeply this issue, asking if you’re embodying your creative potential, serving your community and living true to the values you’d like to pass on.
Not exactly questions for the entertainment section – don’t worry! we’ve still got sudoku! – topics like “Leaving a Legacy” can leave you feeling quite contemplative…luckily, silence is perfect for that! As I experienced the imposed silence of a super virus, I asked myself – whose legacy did I most admire? I was met with the memories of the two people I loved most – my late grandmother and grandfather on my father’s side.
Proof that leaving a beautiful and memorable legacy has a vast number of permutations, they couldn’t be more different – and yet, more the same. I remembered my grandmother for her laugh, her glow, her patience and her presence. Her reverence for life made every moment with her feel special.
Never off in the future or reimagining the past, she was with you, fully, always. When she passed, I was prepared, she cherished every moment before her departure and gave me everything from her wedding dress to her resilience. Best describing her legacy would probably be “the power of presence and the gift of living in the now.”
My grandfather lived on for over a decade without her. I have to smile thinking of him now, because I remember his laugh just as clearly as his wife’s. Always the planner and the historian, my grandfather’s legacy is one that reveals time as a continuum with the past, the present and the future existing all at once. He gave me the gift of my heritage when his painstaking research produced the family tree to top all family trees, and his hard work and forward thinking helped me to approach the present with an eye on the future. His death was very much a surprise, and so were his generous gifts to so many – gifts planned long before his passing and gifts that will serve long after. Teaching the valuable lesson of learning from the past and planning for the future, best describing his legacy would be “be prepared.”
Thanks to the silence, and its resulting contemplation, my grandparents came to life again. I realized what was passed on from each of them was incredibly different, but what I loved about them was exactly the same. They lived true to themselves. They knew what mattered to them and they aligned their actions accordingly. Sitting in the silence begged the question – are my priorities straight? Am I embodying what I claim to be most important to me?
This month, as you enjoy Earth Day, and reflect on how much the earth means to you, and as you enjoy spring, and celebrate how great it is to be alive, perhaps you’ll join me for a little respite in silence and look into your heart for a legacy all your own. Whether it’s through giving a generous gift, giving the community your time, or simply giving a smile, I hope this issue inspires you to give the gift only you can give – that which is uniquely you. Hint: it’s often found in silence.