Our family reunion was in July. Since then, I have spent weeks sharing and trading pictures with relatives as well as reviewing family history. These activities brought about some introspection. What have I done with my inheritance? What will I pass on to my children and grandchildren? Will my legacy have the same, less, or better value than the legacy I received from my ancestors?
If you have been following me, you know that I attribute much of my values, education, and outlook to the influence of my grandparents and great grandparents. From childhood through adulthood, these were the people who invested their time, talents, and treasures in me and my future. In fact, these were the people who passed on everything they had to the next generation since the 1800’s. Mostly, I remember the time spent with each of them. What precious memories!
As a curious and tenacious only child, I was constantly pursuing knowledge. I wanted to know what everything was and how everything worked or didn’t work. I always had a thousand questions about any given subject. Curiosity was my main character trait, but I can’t remember one time when I was turned away or dismissed by my elders. Oftentimes, they turned my questions into full-fledged lessons which was further than I wanted to go or know. I also remember lots of laughter, both with me and at me when I was feeling particularly silly. More than anything, I remember faith and spirituality, respect for the land and it’s produce, charity and community, stories and singing, and the sacred bonds of family. My life was made richer by their endowments. I’m positive the dividends of their net worth have been multiplied over many generations.
Being the creative writer that I am (LOL), you know I haven’t used all these financial terms to talk about money. The material possessions I have from my grandparents and great grandparents consist of a quilt, some china, a watch, a snake necklace set, and our written family history based on oral tradition. These are all priceless treasures to me, but their total appraised value probably wouldn’t surpass three thousand dollars. To be honest, I’m not sure my children and grandchildren will find much financial value in the material things I will leave behind. Yet, I am striving on a daily basis to leave them the most valuable things I have – a true legacy. My net worth has to be something that will endure and transcend time and place – something that can be passed on perpetually to next generations.
My godson really has a grip on this concept. He defines wealth this way: “The internal assets of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment my life generates, in my life and the lives of others.” (Yes, he is a deep thinker, and I’m so proud of him.) He has been quoted to say, “My life and the people I share it with is my wealth. Loving life is the goal!” So, when I hear the question: What is your net worth? I don’t think of my portfolio or my insurable assets. I think of those intangible benefits that I inherited from my ancestors such as becoming a life-long learner, understanding my own self-worth, being a contributor to the success of the next generation, instilling hope and administering love, demonstrating faith, and implementing such strong support that failures become steppingstones. As my godson says, “internal assets.” These things never lose their value. These things cannot be taken away. These things can be passed on from one generation to the next, and if nurtured can be the catalyst of a successful, fulfilled life.
I am so blessed to have the love and the spirit of my ancestors living inside of me. I am blessed to have experienced their living firsthand. My great grandfather, Will Jackson, the last of that generation, died the year after I got married, but I can still hear his stories; I can still hear his husky laugh and it warms my heart. I have no idea what the monetary value of his life was, but I am absolutely positive he left his children, grandchildren, and his great grandchildren everything he had which makes my net worth priceless.
I plan to continue the tradition. How about you? Do you know your net worth? How do you define wealth? What are you planning to leave the next generation? I’d love to hear from you.
Stay safe, stay invested, count your blessings!