Today is the big day…65 and officially, a senior citizen and a Medicare recipient. It is a birthday where I had totally different thoughts on how I would celebrate it and my life. I had visions and dreams of an all-out disco birthday bash (DJ, big hair, ‘70’s attire and all) to eating, drinking, wandering, and maybe even falling in love, all while exploring every inch of Italy. But here I am, smack in the middle of a pandemic, with the rest of the world, and I find myself struggling with the number because the reality is, I most certainly have less time left here, than I have lived. And along with questioning, I also find myself reflecting on my legacy, and wondering what it may sound and look like, from the inside out.
They say everyone leaves behind a legacy after they die but only a few leave behind one worth talking about. No matter who you are, leaving behind a legacy is important. It is not a monetary one but one that is harder to define, and it certainly is far more important. I have thought long, and hard about my own legacy, and what it would really sound like, look like and feel like. What were some of the things I did, the places I went, my accomplishments, my failures, and my lasting words? Is my legacy filled with a lifetime of relationships, truths, values, and will they live on in the lives that I have touched? What mark did I leave that would help people in making decisions, and life choices on what to do and not do? What were some of my positive and selfless acts? What example have I been to behave in a good way, and to avoid making the mistakes I had made?
For me, I am even more driven by the urgent desire to find a larger meaning to my life. I find myself struggling, reflecting, reviewing, and thinking about ways of giving back. I also find myself assessing, and sorting through my past, and the contributions I have made, and the memories I will leave behind, and I still question, was it all enough? It is so easy to remember all of our mistakes and the less than desirable moments in our lives, and I am not sure I will ever know if my life was enough or if it left a lasting impression on the lives I did touch, but these are the truths I know for sure, along with my hopes.
I know I have loved hard and unconditionally. I know I made many mistakes, some twice and maybe even three times but I have learned something from each one of them. I know there have been many people, who have passed through my life for a reason, a season, and some for a lifetime. I am grateful for each one of them and what they may have taught me or what they have brought to my life. I learned that determination could chart your own course, it paves your own way, and there is nothing wrong with going it alone. I have learned in those times when you do feel all alone, it is important to recognize you have so much help around you, and all you have to do is ask for it. I have learned you can survive all of the cracks, struggles, and flaws of life with a strong faith and belief.
I hope that the good values instilled in me were profound enough that they have trickled down to the generations after me. I hope my work ethic was visible enough that it left a lasting impression. I hope my commitment, and determination was prevalent to the lives I have touched. I hope that my message that life can be so simple, and most of the time we complicate it has been heard, and always remembered. I hope I am remembered for knowing the importance of taking a pause, taking a breath, and being in the moment. I hope my example that you are never too old to learn is one that encourages others. I hope that my life story has taught the lives that I have touched that no matter how many times life knocks you to the ground, there is always hope, and another chance to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and to just keep moving. I hope that I have taught many that we all have choices, and the importance of taking responsibility for those choices.
I hope that my children and grandchildren will always know they were my life, and I hope that they each know how they were individually loved. I hope that they have learned and know that their individual uniqueness was something so powerful in my life. I hope that they learned that it is okay to stumble, and when you lose your footing, trust in yourself, and whatever outside force you believe in. I trust they will know God was mine. I hope they know I did the best I could financially when the going was good, and I did even better in the worst of times. I hope they know I would have gone to the end of the earth for each one of them. I hope they know that they had a voice in me, and one they could trust, and a face they could turn to in their time of need. I hope they know that they could always count on me. More importantly, I hope they know how grateful I am for their tolerance of my own flaws.
I hope they know that they were each a beautiful gift to my life. Raising them and watching them grow had its tough moments, and I hope they know the joyous moments, by far, outweigh the tough ones. I hope they know I did my best to dream for them. My dream has always been for each of them to see the world, and that they discover their purpose in life. My hope is that they never settle for anything less than the best version of themselves. I hope they remember me as the kind of mother and Nana, who would lift cars, and fight bears to keep them safe. I hope they always know exactly who they are, and as life marches on, I hope they know some dreams will change, and some will go away but I hope they know I will never stop dreaming for them. And no matter what happens, I hope they know I will love them forever.
I hope my vanity and high maintenance obsessions were not inflicted upon others but remembered as ones that were more about the importance of self-care, health, well-being, and feeling good about yourself…mentally, physically and emotionally. I hope I have taught others the importance of being kind to your body and to learn to love it, take care of it and that the body keeps score and it always wins. I hope my very real obsession with lipstick is remembered with a lot of laughter, and the true understanding, power and relationship behind lipstick and its possibilities. Those who really know me will fully understand this.
Life has taught me many things, and I hope I have passed on some knowledge that hard work, diligence, perseverance, persistence, tenacity and a commitment are all ingredients for the making of a successful career. I hope my message was clear, to all who knew me, that you will know when it is time to move on, and part ways, and to never take anything personal when it comes to business. I hope they know that while corporate America was good to me, I was even better to it.
I hope I have been an example of how to believe in your own abilities and to never be afraid to fall. I hope I have been an example that your best usually comes out when you are facing the worst. I hope I have shown many that amazing things can happen when you turn things over. I hope they remember that I had to learn patience, and tolerance, and I hope my example has taught those close to me that life is only as difficult as you allow it to be.
I hope that my passion for cooking, and food is one that has touched many, and more importantly their palates and bellies. I hope that my legacy and belief that presentation is everything, along with taste is one that is carried on for many generations to come. I hope that the stories, and the experience of being in the kitchen with me and sitting at my table are ones that will be remembered with a heart full of love, laughter, and one that makes every mouth salivate. I hope that I have taught many that following your passion and your dreams are always attainable, and achievable when you have a commitment to the passion and the dream.
I hope my passion for creativity, whether it is writing, designing, dancing, drawing or gardening encourages many to always follow their heart. I hope I have taught many to never let the negativity of others get in their creative space or any part of their life. I hope I have taught many that being a free spirit can have its magical moments. I hope I have taught many that even when you fail, you should always stay humble. I hope I have taught many that you can speak your mind but to always be respectful. I hope I have taught many to be mindful of personal boundaries that should never be crossed.
I hope I leave a lasting memory of knowing it is okay to sometimes be silly, and that believing in your creative abilities, dinosaurs, dragons, singing and dancing in the rain, playing in the dirt, laughing at yourself, eating a meal with the people you love, and the gift of your imagination are just some of the simple things that will bring your life everlasting love, and years of amazing memories. I hope my love of Manhattan, and the days spent exploring the city, its museums, Broadway, the food experiences, Central Park, shopping on Fifth Ave and Rockefeller Center Christmas’ are memories that are fondly remembered, and I hope those memories have been contagious enough to live on in others for years to come.
As Springsteen said “age brings a perspective and a fine clarity. It has a way of teaching you many things, and one day, it dawns on you rather quickly that there is only so much time left. There are only so many star-filled nights, snowfalls, brisk fall afternoons and rainy mid-summer days.” I have learned that it is always the smaller things in life that remind us of what truly matters. From the leap of a grandchild into your arms and they wrap their little arms around your neck to a Facetime call from your grandson that you thought would be a five minute call and it turns into nearly a two hour call to a hand reaching to hold yours to being recognized for a lifetime achievement to someone’s warm embrace and whispering in your ear that they love you to a gentle kiss on your forehead. You see, some things have a way of imprinting themselves on your life and they never let go. They are a life sentence of some bad, many good and an enormous number of great memories. That is your reward. Being here to witness and feel it all.
As I celebrate a 65-year legacy (so far, that is) …it is one that reminds me I am lucky to be alive. Lucky to be breathing in this world of beauty, and hope. Because this is what I am presented with each day, a chance. A chance in a world where I am lucky to love, and to be loved. I hope I continue to dance through life, and more importantly, I still remain hopeful that the best is yet to come for me and my soul’s purpose.
Simply Deborah ❤️