The Lessons Some Relatives Left

The lessons some relatives left me remind me an inheritance may be consistence, common sense and kindness as well as valuables. Some of my relatives left many enduring lessons — lessons I hope I can pass on.

Sometimes their lessons were wise examples; others were heart-breaking warnings, NOT to follow their examples. 


A happy family is but an earlier heaven. George Bernard Shaw

Family life is a bit like a runny peach pie — not perfect but who’s complaining? ~  Robert Brault 

All of these women are gone – their friendship and interest in me changed me. None of them deliberately developed any lesson plans – but the consistency of their world-views created indelible instruction worth passing along to the beautiful women — and men who are in my family.

Lessons  My Mother Left: 

  1. Change can and will happen! She turned her life around – 180 degrees – having come perilously close to death. God changed her through worship and sound teaching and other women who simply included her in what they were doing.
  2. Decades of pain and failure do not predict the future.
  3. Do not go into debt.
  4. Do not gossip.
  5. Be hospitable.
  6. Be a good guest.
  7. Do not volunteer advice to your adult children.
  8. Make yourself useful for as long as you can.
  9. Keep yourself tidy – and keep your living space simple.
  10. Make decisions now for living arrangements that will be easy on your children.

What Her Sister, My Aunt Virginia, Taught:

  1. Love your kids – but when they are grown, stay out of their business.
  2. Do not let alcohol rule your life.
  3. Welcome the weary – show hospitality.
  4. Struggle for and with faith.

My Father’s Sister, Aunt Nell, Also Left Lessons:

  1. Never put a price on people’s friendship or failures.
  2. Be careful how you get the last word.
  3. Character and conduct are more important than bloodlines.

Lessons  My Mother-law, Elizabeth, Left:

  1. Live until you die. “The time to be happy is today.”
  2. Good manners matter; so do style and grace. Learn them!
  3. Keep heartaches, advice, and complaints to yourself. Like my mother, her credo was “Do not offer advice unless asked.
  4. Be generous, now. Go to church, too.

His Aunt Dorothy Left Practical Lessons:

  1. Love and encourage and accept people for who they are –
  2. Be interested in others, and be interesting yourself.
  3. Write letters.
  4. Read, read, read. And talk about what you have learned.

Lessons from Another of Doug’s Aunts,  Ann:

  1. Laugh, though your heart is breaking.
  2. Family matters.
  3. Stay involved.
  4. Do what it takes to stay alive – and I tremble at the awful irony as I describe this lesson.

These dear women left quite an inheritance —

The Lord Left One, too!


Just a sampling of the relatives and the lessons that they left me is  truly an inheritance that keeps on giving in sad and happy times.

This little outline of what they taught me, informally but consistently and generously, is worth passing on, I hope. Because I don’t think the times are going to get easier or saner. 

I just wonder what any one of them would say about today.


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