As I was running this morning, I listened to the final episode of the second season of Malcom Gladwell’s podscast Revisionist History. If you haven’t listened to it yet, you should. Gladwell selects stories from history that have been over looked and he provides the listener with a different, enlightening perspective of the event. Not only am I intrigued by his topics of conversation but I am in love with his voice. Yes, I do have a bit of crush. I could listen to him talk about nearly anything.
At the end of his final episode, he touches on an idea that struck a chord with me. He interviews cardiologist Robert Frantz about his late father’s research that changed the American diet. At the end, Gladwell changes course and asks, “What is a child’s obligation to their parents?” How do we preserve our parents’ legacy? Gladwell had recently lost his own father, and this particular interview led him past the facts and into a place where he needed to find a way to keep his father alive in his heart by upholding his principles.
It’s been 16 years since I lost my own father. And each year as the anniversary approaches I ask myself this same question—How can I remember him in a way that is good and honorable? My dad was a great man. A humble and generous man that fought his fatal cancer with a smile. However, each year I struggle to recognize and remember his memory. The details of his life are fading from my memory. Unfortunately, some years his anniversary passes and I don’t even realize it until a week later. At this point the guilt sets in. How could a man I adored for 20 years, slip my mind?
But this morning, Gladwell answered my question perfectly. It’s not necessarily about remembering every detail about a passed loved one, but instead about honoring their beliefs and possibly living them out yourself. Memories are going to fade with time, but their principles don’t have to.
I am determined to find a way to remember my father’s beliefs and the things that were important to him both morally and tangibly.
I again turn to Gretchen Rubin for ideas. In episode 124 Remember Love of her podcast Happier she answers a listener question about dealing with sad anniversaries. Her suggestion is to fill the anniversary with positive associations about the person or event they are honoring instead of focusing on the grief. Tying the day with happier memories enables you to reframe the anniversary with positive aspects.
I’ve come up with a few ideas on how to preserve my father’s legacy that also focus on the happier memories I have of him.
- Plan a service project with my children
- Add a plant a year to my flower garden
- Play Barbara Streisand
- Give generously of my time throughout the year
- Give back to my church and other charitable organizations
- Open my home to those who are in need of community
- Pursue the truth
- Drink a bottle of Miller Draft on the deck
How do you remember those you love? How do you preserve a legacy? I would love to hear your thoughts and insights in the comment section below.
Your fellow traveler,