Our stories are our currency. Who better to tell them than us?
What kind of legacy shall any of us leave? I’ve been thinking about that very question. Memorabilia or collectibles that may have been valued or deemed appropriate 10 or 20 years ago have long since been rendered obsolete—replaced by e-gadgets, apps and other bright shiny objects I neither understand nor own.
Recently my husband and I attended a Memorial Service to pay our respects and bid farewell to one of Grand Rapids’ finest and most generous supporters of the arts community that makes our city vibrant and extraordinary. We, along with hundreds of others, came together to pay tribute to Chuck Royce and hear stories we’ve heard before but wanted to hear again—this time from the perspective of his children and grandchildren. We learned Chuck was one of those rare individuals whose life was shaped by his frequent question, “How can I help?”
Grand Rapids has lost at least three such irreplaceable men in the last couple of years. All three lived to be at least 90 years old. All three became presidents of companies started by their fathers or grandfathers and each took their business to unprecedented new levels. They contributed generously to our city in ways most of us cannot. Gardens, university buildings, concert halls and causes large and small are here because they and other community leaders modeled the meaning of living and leaving a legacy. Tom Brokaw was right when he called their generation The Greatest Generation.
As you continue your life journey, be vigilant and aware of people around you who are making things happen—introduce yourself and get to know them. Then have the courage to ask, “How can I help?” Fulfillment and significance await you!
All of us have within us the capability of leaving a legacy within our means—a legacy that matters. Spending time or showing love to someone who needs a friend, teaching someone a new skill, funding scholarships, introducing youngsters to symphony music or the work of great artists can open doors of awareness and opportunity. Using your contacts to connect people can change lives—both theirs and yours.
Food and family gatherings have always been important parts of our immediate and extended family life. Realizing that ethnic specialties and other favorite recipes would someday be lost if never written down, I compiled what would become the McCormick-DeLapa Family Cookbook (1997). This 300-page hardcover quickly became a family favorite. Ten years later, our daughter published a sequel and another favorite was born.
Following the loss of two younger siblings, I felt compelled to share the stories, struggles, successes and values for our immediate and extended family. A year later Was That Really Us, God? A Collection of Memoirs showed up under our family Christmas trees across the country. The laughter, tears and insights that followed made the effort worthwhile. We all have stories. I encourage you to write yours now while the details are still fresh. What an irreplaceable gift to the next generation—your stories!
Remember, your stories are your currency—share them now as only you can!
©Judy DeLapa July 2015