Legacy – What Really Matters

By Trina L. Hanner, CFP®

I visited the funeral home three times this week to pay respects to and encourage friends and clients who have lost someone special in their lives.  Each time I encounter a death of a friend or family, I’m reminded of how short life really is.  I start to wonder what people will remember about me. When my obituary is read and people come and visit my family, what will they say about me?  As I ponder, I review my life and ask the questions: “What difference have I made?”, “What is my legacy?”, “What is important in life?”, “What really matters?”.  And as I do that, my focus on immediate things begins to fade away.  I begin to think less about my calendar and more about my relationships and the people that I love and the causes that I’m passionate about.  I ask myself why I’m not spending more of my time and money to take care of those things that are so important.  I do realize that most of us must work for a living and that does take up a lot of time.  But I also know that there are many things on my calendar that aren’t going to be important next week, next month, next year, ten years from now.  Why do I spend so much time on those things, rather than focusing on my legacy, which will last forever? 

Recently in my morning quiet time, I read this devotional called “Mr. and Mrs. Thing”.  As we near the end of 2016, let’s ask ourselves:  What really matters?  Do our calendar and checkbook reflect our answer to that question?

The story of Mr. and Mrs. Thing provides a vivid reminder of truth. Mr. and Mrs. Thing are a very pleasant and successful couple. At least, that’s the verdict of most people who tend to measure success with a “thingometer.” When the “thingometer” is put to work in the life of Mr. and Mrs. Thing, the result is startling.

There is Mr. Thing sitting down on a luxurious and very expensive thing, almost hidden by a large number of other things.

Things to sit on, things to sit at, things to cook on, things to eat from, all shiny and new. Things, things, things.

Things to clean with and things to wash with and things to clean and things to wash. And things to amuse and things to give pleasure and things to watch and things to play.

Things for the long, hot summer and things for the short, cold winter. Things for the big thing in which they live and things for the garden and things for the deck and things for the kitchen and things for the bedroom.

And things on four wheels and things on two wheels and things to put on top of the four wheels and things to pull behind the four wheels and things to add to the interior of the thing on four wheels.

Things, things, things.

And there in the middle are Mr. and Mrs.Thing, smiling and pleased as punch with things, thinking of more things to add to things. Secure in their castle of things. Do they sound familiar?

The story of Mr. and Mrs. Thing always strikes a chord with the audience when shared in a public forum. Everyone, it seems, knows someone who fits their description. (And all of us probably see something of ourselves in this couple.)

Mr. and Mrs. Thing may be secure in their castle of things, but that’s not the end of their story.

Here it is: Well, I just want you to know that your things can’t last. They’re going to pass. There’s going to be an end to them.

Oh, maybe an error in judgment, maybe a temporary loss of concentration, Or maybe you’ll just pass them off to the secondhand thing dealer. Or maybe they’ll wind up a mass of mangled metal being towed off to the thing yard. And what about the things in your house? Well, it’s time for bed. Put out the cat, make sure you lock the door so some thing-taker doesn’t come and take your things. And that’s the way life goes, doesn’t it?

And someday, when you die, they only put one thing in the box. You.