How Will They Remember Me?

Sometimes in this crabby world we live in, with civility flying out the window, I worry that perhaps we put more effort into making good impressions with strangers, and less into treating the people closest to us with kindness.  I wonder how much gentleness and patience we show to those we treasure the most.

If you were to leave your family now for one reason or another (work, illness, to start a revolution), how would they remember you?

The disciplinarian?

The fun parent?

A friend?

Would the people outside your family think more of you than the ones you live with?

I often tease my girls because they get such fantastic reports from their teachers. I joke that they must have gotten me confused with another mom. They roll their eyes at me a lot.

It would seem they’re helpful, supportive little angels with their classmates and teachers but wow, when they come home the other side emerges. Honestly though, I’d rather have it like that than the other way around. I want home to be a place where they can cut loose and be themselves, warts and all. I want them to be more well-behaved in public than they are at home.

But is that always best? Don’t the people we’re closest to deserve the same kindness and respect we show others? Shouldn’t that be our message?

Getting slapped upside the head with my own mortality has made me more aware than ever of how I come across to my daughters and my husband (who often sees the most warts). I wish I could say cancer has made me a nicer person. One of those sunshine and roses, cancer is a gift sort of people but it didn’t.

I’m still crabby and tired and short-tempered more often than I’d like to admit but at the end of the day I do ask myself if that’s the lasting impression I want to make. It’s not!

They are the ones who deserve my kindness, patience and attention the most regardless of how I feel or how tired I am.

So as the 5 yr anniversary of my diagnosis approaches, and as I wonder how long this newest drug will work, I’m reminded of how much I have to treasure and how important it is to be here with them now, not just in body but in spirit. 

What little energy I have needs to go into making sure they know how much I love them and into building lasting memories. I want that to be what they remember. Not how I was always too busy or too tired or otherwise checked out.

If there were ever to be a biography of my life I’d hope the best comments and stories would come from the people I love, not from strangers who knew a different, and better, side of me.

And you? What will your story be?


This post was inspired by the book Young Mandela: The Revolutionary Years by David James Smith . I received a copy of the book, free of charge, for review through the online book club From Left to Write.  Please click on the link to read more posts inspired by this book and others.

This book takes a look at the early years of Nelson Mandela. His childhood up to the events that led to his imprisonment. It’s a much more personal examination of his life as he left his wife and children behind to live on the run . It gives a greater picture of who he was as a man and the impact of his actions on the people around him as he became a revolutionary.



11 thoughts on “How Will They Remember Me?

  1. These are some of the same thoughts that go through my head as well. I’ve even told my kids, “I don’t want you to remember me as being the person who screamed at you all the time to do your chores or pick up after yourself.” Some days, I worry about what my legacy will be. Other days, I feel like I’ve “nailed” it. Wish I had more of those days…

    • I wish you many more “nailed it” sort of days my friend!! Honestly, I would expect you to have mostly nailed it days. You’re a parenting goddess in my book!

  2. Pingback: Young Mandela by David James Smith – A From Left to Write Book Club |

  3. This is a ton of pressure to put on yourself. And me. Thanks a lot.


    But really, I do relate. I spent years taking everything out on my husband. I don’t do that anymore. Miraculously, we are much happier.

    Great post.

  4. This was so moving and interesting. I do agree that we often treat strangers better because we are “more ourselves”, warts and all with those closest to us?

    Maybe the key is to start treating strangers worse? Hey, I’m going to try that starting tomorrow! Thanks for the idea!

  5. Great post! And interesting take off on this book!

    I have certainly experienced the other side of your situation. My son Mark was killed 8 years ago at age 25. I have asked myself a million times, “Did I tell him how fabulous he was when he was alive?” “Did I tell him how rich and wonderful our relationship as mother and son was?” I know I did and yet I wish it had been even more often!

    Thanks for sharing your journey.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your son! Thank you for the reminder that we need to make sure they know how we feel about them. I think I needed the reminder today.

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