Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Group Legacy Letter to an Aging Parent--Does it work?

Five eldercare blog posts on a single subject?  I never thought I'd do it.  But here goes.

This is the fifth post on the subject of "A Legacy Letter," a gift you can give the elder in your life. A Legacy Letter is similar to a tribute at a funeral, but the recipient is alive, reading the letter or having the letter read aloud to them. A  Legacy Letter points out the recipient's key qualities, and uses  examples and stories to "show" a well as "tell the story."

Christmas is a great time to write and present a Legacy Letter.  But other occasions work as well:  Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day, a special anniversary, or a big birthday.

The letter is usually written by one person.  But last October, the idea dawned on me to make the Legacy Letter a group effort. The upcoming big occasion was my mother-in-law's 90th birthday which fell on Thanksgiving this year.

How would the group letter idea go over with the two Boomer children and five grandchildren? I emailed them an assignment to answer "What qualities stand out in Grandma's life?"  And what contributions has she made to us and to others?" 

Stories highlighting Grandma's contribution were essential. 

Believe it or not, everyone made their deadline!  Our daughter prefaced her contribution with  , "Mom, I'm so glad you asked us to write this!  For the last two weeks in between errands and other tasks, I've been thinking about Grandma and the memories we've had."  More importantly, she and the others said wonderful things about Grandma Margie.

Imagine the look on Grandma's face when her son--my husband--began reading the letter.  Here are a couple of excerpts:

"You have been my cheerleader as long as I can remember...always standing behind me, encouraging me and cheering me on."

"I have treasured the many memories I have made with you both growing up and as an adult....I remember running around the Kirkland house and eating canned peaches and ice cream.."

The scene reminded me of "Queen for a Day."

For more information on Legacy Letters, contact Melanie Vetter, Health Advocate, at Well Fleet Circle.

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