We inherit from our ancestors gifts so often taken for granted… Each of us contains within… this inheritance of soul. We are links between the ages, containing past and present expectations, sacred memories and future promise. ~Edward Sellner
I woke up thinking about Dad yesterday. Not ‘missing’ him, per se; just thinking about him. Actually, I found myself wondering what he was doing – one of those odd moments you experience after someone has died but your brain doesn’t quite yet register that they’re gone. It was as if Dad were simply alive and well at the family home in Colorado. Except the family home is long gone, now, sold to another couple. And Dad’s ashes reside in a marble niche that looks toward Pikes Peak.
I found myself thinking about Dad yesterday as I drove into the office – on a Sunday – to complete some required computer training that I could only accomplish on a day when the office sat empty, with no bustle and distraction. Still, I wasn’t happy about going in on my day off. Churlish would be more like it. And then I remembered Dad’s refrain: If you agree to do something, do it cheerfully. The saying on which this blog was founded. So I tried to regain that positive attitude: Maybe the training won’t take as long as I’m thinking; maybe I’ll be done and out of there before I know it.
And, as it turned out, that was the case.
I frequently fail to look on the bright side of things. So did Dad, despite his stated philosophy. But he kept trying, and I do, too. This constant striving to improve is one legacy I inherited from Dad. Others include viewing productive activity as a virtue, being friendly, making the hard decisions of life rather than avoiding them, and “doing what you have to do.”
When I think about it, Dad inherited these traits from his parents. And, presumably, they from their ancestors, back through the generations.
This inheritance of the soul, as Edward Sellner puts it, runs deep in all of us. I think about this today, as a caregiver, and feel grateful to have inherited such a strong legacy from family members I never knew. And not only from Dad’s ancestors but from Mom’s, as well. These cultural underpinnings serve me, as a caregiver, because they help inform how I behave today – and how I’ll probably behave in the future. They also help me find courage when there is none and strength when I feel weak, because Dad would have expected courage and strength, and he would have been the first to tell me I have more potential within me than I realize.
I don’t normally think about these things, but the truth is caregiving requires courage, strength, a sense of humor, energy, warmth, love, and…cheerfulness. And as I reflect on this, I find myself exceedingly grateful to all those unknown ancestors who distilled these qualities in me, some in meager proportions and others in abundance, but all of them there. And all to be tapped as I need them.
Weigh in: What are your ‘inheritances of the soul’?