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Leaving a Legacy

by Bill Chaddock, Willow Brook at Delaware Run resident

Each of us has a priceless legacy to leave our children, grandchildren and even descendants not yet born.

That legacy is the multitude of memories and experiences – some happy, some sad – about our lives and families that we have accumulated over the years.  It is important that we each take time to preserve and pass along this treasured heritage to future generations who will be grateful that we did.

If you doubt the importance your descendants will place on your personal and family-related remembrances, consider how valuable you would find stories recorded by your ancestors that detailed their lives and experiences.

I became aware of the importance of my personal legacy while having a Sunday dinner with my daughter and her family. After I related a story about my grandparents, my daughter said: “Dad, that’s a wonderful memory, and you have so many others.  Please write them down.  If you don’t, when you’re gone, they’ll also be gone.”

I heeded my daughter’s advice and now have dozens of family lore stories on my computer and, just in case it crashes, paper copies in a notebook.

Start building your legacy.  A good way to begin is to look through photo albums. They always generate memories.  Or simply spend some quiet time reminiscing about family experiences, your career, a special Christmas present, how you met your wife or husband, a vacation, or a lasting memory of an aunt, uncle or grandparent. The list is endless.

A portrait of Bill Chaddock
Bill Chaddock, Willow Brook at Delaware Run resident, started writing down his memories at the request of his daughter, who said, "Dad, that’s a wonderful memory, and you have so many others. Please write them down. If you don’t, when you’re gone, they’ll also be gone.

When a bit of family lore peeks out of your memory bank, take a moment to jot down a few words as a reminder before it slips away.  Then, when time permits, expand those few words into a legacy moment.  

You do not need to be an accomplished writer to transform your memories into words. Just imagine you are telling the story to a good friend and put the words that come to mind on paper.  Do not worry about grammar or spelling; they can be corrected later.  Writing your first memory may take some time.  But, the second will be easier as will the third and the fourth, and the dozens that come later.  

You can get writing advice and encouragement by attending meetings of Delaware Run’s Writing Memories Group the fourth Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m.

A graduate of Marshall University, Bill Chaddock worked as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining the Columbia Gas System’s Communications Department where he worked for 32 years, retiring in 1996 as a senior vice president.