Not too long ago, my 90 year-old mother was introduced to her new great grandson. Mom was in failing health and not expected to survive. When the child was placed in her arms, she immediately broke into a huge smile and began to sing. I looked at my son who was beaming with pride and we exchanged a smile. These were the same songs she had sung to me as a child and the same ones I had sung to him. They were silly tunes and I think most of the words were made up as she went along, but the baby smiled and cooed and enjoyed them as much as we had.
As I reflect on the legacy that each of us leave behind on our journey through life, I am struck by the realization that it's often the simplest things we do that make the biggest impression. My own children are now grown with children of their own and I am constantly surprised by their memories. As a parent, I worked hard to create what I thought would be lasting memories, but these are not the things they remember. More often it's things like sharing strawberry milkshakes and singing silly songs that they remember fondly.
If there's a lesson there someplace, it's that we are creating memories every day...not just when we plan an event or make a special attempt at it. The most lasting memories are those we make unconsciously as we go about the business of living our lives. These are the things that imprint themselves over time and remind us of who we are and where we came from.
My mother survived her near-death experience and continues to sing to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My birthday would not be complete without a call from her and a croaky version of "Happy Birthday." We have all continued this tradition with our own children. Her songs have become her legacy for all of us.