A few years ago I was asked to give a presentation to the management staff at my former place of employment as part of an empowerment seminar. The topic was my choice. Having survived public speaking in college I felt pretty confident that I would be okay speaking to approximately 30 people. No one told me that the president and CEO of the company would attend the seminar…
I thought a long time about a topic that would be meaningful to the audience. I didn’t want the speech to be about the infrastructure of the company; I wanted to speak about the importance of setting priorities in your professional life but especially in your personal life. The two facets often overlapped so balancing everything was crucial for success.
After much thought and many rough drafts I decided on a topic which needed to be addressed. People work very hard to provide for their family, to educate their children, and to have a nice portfolio when it is time to retire. My observations of some individuals were bothersome to me, however. I was convinced that they slept in their office because they were always there. When did they have family time? Those who knew me understood how important family was to me. So I prayed and the words “inheritance or memories” kept coming to my mind. I had my topic!
Our children grow up in the blink of an eye. How could anyone want to miss those milestones or fail to share those special moments and stories of your youth? It was heavy on my heart so I took a deep breath, said a prayer and began writing. The only way that I felt I could really share my message was to share some personal reflections.
Having grown up without ever knowing any of my grandparents, I learned about them by listening and asking lots of questions. There was not a shortage of relatives so I felt good about my resources being able to provide accurate information, at least as accurate as they could remember. It was important that our children had some knowledge of their great grandparents and ancestors before them. They needed memories…
My dad was a fisherman. He died when I was 14. When our son was about 8 or 9 I took him out to Twelve Mile Park. We found a section of rocks that provided a nice place to sit while I taught him how to bait a hook, cast a rod, take a fish off of the hook; but most of all I told him about his Papa Taylor and how much my daddy would have loved him. I shared many stories with him while sitting on those rocks which we lovingly named “Robert’s Rock”. I hope to take Wesley out to that same spot when he gets a little older and share the same stories with him.
Making memories weren’t always free. It was important to spread our wings and take our children on adventures. We took them to Washington, D.C. and introduced them to our nation’s capital and all of the history that our capital had to offer. They saw a case filled with one million dollars, all in one dollar bills. Couldn’t get the security guard to share. :-(. I tried. We took them to the Holocaust Museum where they cried when we went into the room full of shoes…a haunting memory still.
A cousin spent many hours, days, months and years tracing our family history. My family originated in the highlands of Scotland, Fort William to be exact. How could we not take our children to Scotland to visit our ancestral home! We were very fortunate to be able to meet the clan chieftain of our clan Cameron. Our ancestral home is huge. Beautiful gardens, beautiful surroundings and our host was most gracious. Having been knighted by the Queen some years before, I wasn’t sure how to address my very distant cousin. My worries were short-lived. He made us feel right at home. He shared some of my family’s history with our daughter and our son. Some of the information I was familiar with; some parts he could have left out! Oh well, no family is perfect…
We took our kids to England, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, Italy, the Holy See, the Netherlands. We took them to Canada. Robert visited Honduras twice. We have travelled many of the states. Our memories, their memories will be more precious with the passing of time. Their inheritance, however, will not be as lucrative as it could have been, but THEY WILL HAVE MEMORIES. They will remember that although Mom and Dad worked hard, nothing was more important than them. Time spent with them no matter where was what was important. Our jobs were important but our family was the MOST important.
No, our family is not now or ever was wealthy, at least monetarily. Our wealth was and is defined by love, respect and enjoying spending time with each other. No amount of money or inheritance can take that away.
I ended my presentation by asking the audience to think about one thing – Inheritance or Memories – which did they think was most important in nurturing their children and molding them into responsible adults. I received a standing ovation, many hugs were accompanied by tears and one gentleman told me that he had just experienced a life-changing event. He realized that he kept making excuses for not being able to do things with his boys. He was dedicated to his family but he had let his job take over his life.
Initially I had no idea what to discuss but then I had a “God moment” so I knew all would be well. “God moments” are the best moments.