Sunday, November 13, 2011

Perspective and Legacy

A picture I took this past week from the waterfront near Des Moines.

I suppose that in genealogical circles, we think more about leaving a legacy than some others do. I've had occasion to ponder this over the past few days. In the genealogical community, I've been reading about Bridgett Schneider, the founder of the website Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, who passed away this week at the far too young age of 64. I never had a chance to take advantage of the incredibly kind natures of the many volunteers that worked to help others make their genealogical research a success, but was always very grateful that such a place existed. The site will be down for a little while, but Bridgett's husband, Doc, has promised Bridgett he'll get it back up and running. Over 4,000 volunteers helping each other with their family history from all over the world; it's an amazing thing...

Bridgett's passing made me think of my sweet mother who died six years ago now at the age of 63. I wonder if when she was my age she realized that she had less than 20 years left on this earth? That she wouldn't live to see her oldest granddaughter get married, her next oldest graduate from high school, or her grandson graduate and leave on a mission? I'm sure she had all kinds of plans, including great-grandchildren. After all, her mother and grandmothers lived into their 80s and 90s. It makes me sad, but it also makes me reflect... Would I change something if I knew that about my own life? I like to think I would, but I wonder. Life has a way of just taking over and swamping our best intentions. At times I feel positively bulldozed by circumstances!

Even when I feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, it's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. Just recently, in the midst of frantically preparing for and taking midterms, I received several very interesting genealogical queries from distant cousins that demanded attention. It would have been easy to just put them off, but I found that answering them helped me to keep my perspective and gave my mind a rest from C# programming and CSS layout. If I had to think one more time about all the components of a CPU... but it also occurred to me that sometimes I get overwhelmed and a few of those 50 balls I'm trying to keep in the air drop with a resounding thud. What I have often wondered is which ones will I regret dropping the most? I'm smart enough to know that I will regret some. Maybe it will be spending time being silly with my teenage son, or quiet time with my hubby. Since my girls have gone off to school, time spent just chatting and getting giggly on the phone has come to mean a lot more, believe me!

But, in the end, as a very wise woman told me today at church as I was preparing to perform a duet during Sacrament Meeting and was feeling a bit panicked, "You can only do the best you can do." And in the end, I suppose that's the answer. As we near the Thanksgiving season, I'm most grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who knows my limitations and while He expects me to do my best to overcome them and to grow, He also understands when I've done my best and can do no more.

So maybe it's time we all were just a little gentler and kinder to ourselves and others, did our best to help them bear their burdens, and spent some time letting those we love around us know about it. We don't always know what's around the next bend, and that's ok too. Just do your best to leave a legacy of love and service and try to keep a perspective that allows you to keep moving forward and live your life with joy.