As I get older, I sometimes look around my house at all of the “stuff” that I have accumulated over my life. I have the typical big screen TV, iPad, and other electronics and house fillers. But when I pass away, my children are not going to be fighting over those trappings of modern living. Instead, the items that are going to be the most treasured are the family heirlooms. Those happy memories locked away in monetarily valueless items. An item such as the teddy bear my oldest son held onto tightly when he left the hospital after a minor surgery, the same teddy bear that he shared with his younger siblings as a “guardian” to keep their bad dreams away. Currently it stays at Grandma’s house, but when I pass, I do not know who will keep it. Or my collection of photo albums and scrapbooks that documented all of the birthdays, graduations, weddings and family vacations. Is one child going to take the whole collection, are they going to divvy it such that one child gets the book from the early 1980s and another child gets the book from the late 80s? Will they take out the individual pictures that each treasures and disregard the other pictures?
I have done my estate planning documents and I have peace of mind that my house and bank accounts will be distributed to my children according to my wishes, but I still need to address these sentimental items. I think the hardest part for me is trying to involve my children in the discussion. They seem to put up blinders about my future death; they deflect the issue by pointing to my current health, as if to say because I am in good health now, I will never die, so there is no need to plan. The challenges of interacting with the young and invincible.
As I work to determine who will get what, I am following the book’s advice of writing a journal to record the stories behind the items and why each item holds such a special place in my heart. I found it so moving when Mrs. Tager wrote: “Telling your story about that special something gives it life, a part of your life, and therefore it becomes more meaningful.” That really impacted me, this journal is my way of preserving my legacy, shaping how I will be remembered after I am gone. The journal is my way of helping my children and grandchildren remember the significance of these items, those treasured moments that without the journal would otherwise be lost to time without me there to remember them.