So the first step in our journey was to get a health directive or living will that clearly states what your wishes are when the number of your days is short. No small task, in this particular process, is finding someone who will actually carry out your desire.
Step two is leaving a legacy of your values. Now we have all grown up with certain values that were at one point in time our parent’s values. As we grew older those values were adapted to standards that we considered to be our own. However here is the regret and disconnect for me personally.While I understood my parent’s standards I never really understood how those standards affected their decisions. For example, it is a wonderful standard, especially as a physician, do provide medical care for every patient that comes your way. However how did that broad standard translate into “J should leave my successful practice and go overseas to treat people that I can’t communicate with, can’t pay me, and in some cases people who might actually want to kill me?” What was the process of thought that lead from one point to another? I would love to know all the arguments that went on in my Dad’s head. I would love to know the list of pros and cons. Why would I want to know that? Because knowing these things transforms my Dad from being my Dad into being another adult that struggled with all the same questions that I struggle with. If I just knew those struggles and how his ethical standards helped him work through those struggles and arrive at an unwavering decision than perhaps I would be less wavering in my decisions. There is such a thing as an ethical will. While this ethical will is not legally binding it does help your loved ones not only put your life into perspective but it also helps them put their own lives into perspective. Why did my Mom and Dad always want me to tell the truth? Why did my Mom always tell me,” I don’t care so much what you did, just tell me the truth.” Why did my Mom go ballistic when I lied?
When these values are put to paper they become a living legacy. They will be the stories and values that will be passed down from generation to generation. This is the vehicle by which you can live on, teaching and instructing generation after generation, even though physically you are gone. Perhaps a good starting point is this question; What are the most powerful lessons that I have learned? How did I define my standards? Did I just make them up or are my standards founded on something bigger than myself? Who is even going to know if I stick to my standards and why would they care?
You know we get to a point in our lives where we think, our kids are all gown up and the time for teaching is past. Well let’s say that is true. Let’s say that not only were you an outstanding teacher but your children were exceptional students. However what about your Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren? The only thing I know about my maternal Grandmother is this; 1. She was incredibly determined.
Back in the 30’s when women did even work outside the home and they certainly didn’t have such things as their own personal bank accounts, my Grandmother went to the bank several times and somehow refinanced the home that her husband owned, (no joint ownership at the time), to put my Mom through college. 2. She was amazingly generous. When men came to the back door asking for bread during the Depression she always had an extra loaf. Wouldn’t you love to know the values and circumstances that shaped her?I would have loved to know her but all I have are two little stories from which I can only draw a few conclusions. Frankly that is not enough, consider leaving your children an ethical will.