It was a warm day. The sun hit my face like a seasoned boxer with an amateur fighter in the ring. December days and almost every day in the Caribbean are perfect for a mid-morning hike.
I decided to take my parents on a brief hike off one of the main roads in Antigua. The path began on a dirt trail and ended at one of the island’s 365 beaches.
Before my mom and dad’s visit, my family and I completed the walk on several occasions without any problems. The chances of anything happening to us were slim. We had good shoes, appropriate clothes, and plenty of water.
In LA, my mom and dad share healthy lifestyles. They are 69 and 70 years old, but they can handle the sun and an uneven trail through the forest. My train of thoughts went something like that.
I was wrong.
About halfway down the trail, my mom slipped and fell. She didn’t hurt herself, but I overestimated her fitness. When my dad realized she was fine but stumbled on a rock, he turned to me and said, “I told you she was going to fall!”
It was true.
After we unpacked the car and walked ten feet over a mixture of rocks, sand, and dirt, my dad predicted my mom would slip and twist an ankle. Again, she didn’t get injured, but she did slide down a small portion of the unpaved path like a child on a metal sliding board at your local park.
The embarrassed laugh my mom released when her butt hit the ground was one of the memorable moments of our hike. Midway through the walk, my father gave me another memory to hold onto after their plane's wheels lifted from the tarmac and they returned to the paved streets of southern California.
I asked my dad about his legacy and what he wanted to leave with us.
I said, "Dad, what do you hope is your legacy when your life is over? What do you want me and my sisters to remember about you?" Without hesitation, he responded as if he had rehearsed the answers to these questions a thousand times before in his head, “faith, family, and finances.”
Let me give you a snapshot of his elaborated explanation. The full picture he painted about legacy lasted throughout the hike and followed us into the restaurant, where we shared a late breakfast.
By faith, my dad wants us to remember the importance of having a strong relationship with God. Through the years of witnessing him serve as a church pastor, my sisters and I understand the value of faith in our lives. Of course, not all of us subscribe to every church doctrine, but we do recognize a Divine power in this world.
Family needs less explanation. He wants us to prioritize demonstrating love toward ourselves, our children, aunts, uncles, and a slew of cousins. Despite our disagreements, we must continue to be there for each other to respect his legacy.
Concerning finances, he hopes to leave us with some money. There may not be much with six children, but the goal is to split whatever remains after retirement and any medical expenses. He doesn't want us to fight over the inheritance; we should divide it evenly and use it for investments, eliminating debt, or donating to worthy causes.
When I asked my mom the same legacy question during our post-hike breakfast, she wasn’t surprised at my father’s response. She echoed faith and family but was uncertain about the third layer to her legacy.
I thought about my parents' legacy again during this holiday week and the start of a new year.
My oldest sister and her family returned yesterday to Chicago. We had a great time hiking, shopping, talking, and swimming during their stay. From seeing our children’s interactions and sharing honest conversations, I received confirmation about the success of my dad's legacy.
One day my dad can rest in peace, hopefully not any time soon, knowing that he did an excellent job with his children. After reading this post, he texted me and said I forget to add fitness to his legacy response. Clearly, he likes something about words that begin with the letter, "F!"
What’s your legacy? How will others remember you when it’s your time to die? As we end this year and begin 2022, think about what you need to prioritize better.
In addition to the books, videos, and other material stuff I will leave, I intend for my children to remember me as the embodiment of love, adventure, and discipline. What does that mean, and how does it relate to my father's legacy? That’s a story for a post in 2022!
Happy New Year! See some video of my family’s visit, minus my mom’s fall, in our last vlog episode of 2021 below.