I grew up in a two-story flat in a small upstate New York community. My maternal grandparents lived on the second floor and I remember as a kid climbing the stairs to visit them. I would always pass by the plaque hanging outside their door that read, “I expect to pass through this life but once…therefore, if there is any good that I can do, let me do it now for I shall not pass this way again.”
While I loved my maternal grandparents, I always experienced an emptiness in my heart at never having known my dad’s parents. I wish that they had left me a card, a note, or a letter before they died. And when my father passed away unexpectedly at the age of 59, I made a promise to myself to leave a written legacy for my son and grandchildren. I wanted to share with them what I learned about my life’s journey by recounting both the mistakes I made as well as the miracles I encountered along the way.
I was in the delivery room when my son, Joe was born and witnessed the miracle of life firsthand. I remember during his early years writing him a letter on his birthday as I began the legacy-building process. I was a first-time parent and just beginning a career so I’m sure that my early letters contained more expressions of love than any profound insights about life. But when he got married a couple of years ago and began his own family, I gave him the letters to pass along to his children and hopefully begin a similar process himself.
Then when we were blessed with my grandson, Ethan, and I held him in my arms for the first time, I experienced that miracle of life all over again. As I watched him being baptized, I sat in church and realized what an awesome responsibility and opportunity grandparents have to contribute to the growth and development of their grandchildren. By sharing the wisdom they have accumulated over the years, they can inspire, challenge, coach, and guide them as they embrace the joys and challenges of life.
While I wrote Letters to Ethan for my grandson, I’m praying that parents and grandparents everywhere will embrace a similar opportunity to make a lasting difference in the lives of their children and grandchildren through the Legacy Nation movement.
To paraphrase what I learned as a child, we only pass through this life once. So if there’s anything good that we can do for our kids and grandkids, let’s commit to writing our legacy today, for we shall not pass this way again.