Discover Your Parents’ Wisdom

By | May 14, 2019

Army 103 Engineer Battalion of the 28th Infantry Division that landed at Omaha Beach on D Day. Like many WWII Veterans he never discussed his experiences in the war. In the last few months of his life I sat down with him every Wednesday afternoon just to talk. The topic of the war never came up. Six months after he died my mom approached me and asked me”Did you ever look at dad’s scrapbook?” I asked her “What scrapbook?’ And she handed me an album 3 inches thick. It was loaded with newspaper clippings from the war, maps, photos and one letter signed by Dwight D. Eisenhower. In the upper left corner of the letter my dad noted “ This was handed out just before we sailed for France June 5, 1944.”

If I had only known about the scrapbook I would have had the opportunity to ask him about his experience. Perhaps he would have been more willing to share his memories with me. But I will never know.

In her book, The Wealth of Your Life, Susan Turnbull reminds us that ” What you have learned is as valuable as what you have earned.” She suggests that you should ask your parents to write a “Legacy Letter”. It’s a letter to the family that defines what is important to them and what they want to pass on. If you are an aging parent you should take on this task yourself.

If you or your parents are writing the letter to your family it should include the following;

Your values and what you did in your life to act on those values

A lesson you learned from your parents or grandparents

Your successes and failures in life and how they impacted you

Mentors that have influenced you

Your hopes for the future for your family

Traditions that are important to you that you want to be maintained.

At the next family gathering read the letter out loud and give each person a copy. Be prepared to answer questions that your letter inspired. You will find that it opens up a whole new level of communication with your family.

 

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Have your parents shared their wisdom with you? Have they made you aware of what they learned from their own successes and failures? Have you asked them to share their past with you?

Many of us have overlooked the vast knowledge and experience that our parents learned throughout their lives. In previous generations elders held a position of respect and honor, often consulted by members of the community regarding important decisions. But in today’s world we often overlook this opportunity. Elders have become isolated in retirement communities and assisted living residences.

My father was in the Army 103 Engineer Battalion of the 28th Infantry Division that landed at Omaha Beach on D Day. Like many WWII Veterans he never discussed his experiences in the war. In the last few months of his life I sat down with him every Wednesday afternoon just to talk. The topic of the war never came up. Six months after he died my mom approached me and asked me”Did you ever look at dad’s scrapbook?” I asked her “What scrapbook?’ And she handed me an album 3 inches thick. It was loaded with newspaper clippings from the war, maps, photos and one letter signed by Dwight D. Eisenhower. In the upper left corner of the letter my dad noted “ This was handed out just before we sailed for France June 5, 1944.”

If I had only known about the scrapbook I would have had the opportunity to ask him about his experience. Perhaps he would have been more willing to share his memories with me. But I will never know.

In her book, The Wealth of Your Life, Susan Turnbull reminds us that ” What you have learned is as valuable as what you have earned.” She suggests that you should ask your parents to write a “Legacy Letter”. It’s a letter to the family that defines what is important to them and what they want to pass on. If you are an aging parent you should take on this task yourself.

If you or your parents are writing the letter to your family it should include the following;

Your values and what you did in your life to act on those values

A lesson you learned from your parents or grandparents

Your successes and failures in life and how they impacted you

Mentors that have influenced you

Your hopes for the future for your family

Traditions that are important to you that you want to be maintained.

At the next family gathering read the letter out loud and give each person a copy. Be prepared to answer questions that your letter inspired. You will find that it opens up a whole new level of communication with your family.

Forbes – Healthcare