The legacy of our seniors: My grandmother’s message

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The following excerpt is from my self-published book, “Pathfinding: Seven Principles for Positive Living.” 

“One of my most memorable moments as a child, was listening to my grandmother tell Russian folk tales as we sat nestled on the bed. I vividly remember her story about a poor, hungry woman who knocked on the door of a stranger to ask for a piece of bread and some water. When she was turned away, the person who refused to offer her food was plagued with frogs or snakes which jumped out of his mouth whenever he tried to speak. However, if the poor woman was welcomed by the host when she knocked on his door, gold and pearls would come out of the host’s mouth whenever he spoke.

“My grandmother’s message was clear: Perform kind deeds whenever you can. Be loving and kindhearted. Treat people kindly so you will be treated kindly. Speak pearls of wisdom. Respect people. Be compassionate because the pattern of the human race goes from individual to family to group to community to city to state to nation to the world.  What is passed from one is passed to all. What is done to one affects everyone. I cherish the times I spent at her side soaking up the stories and heritage she passed on to me.

“My family heritage is my personal, cultural and professional foundation. It’s my moral,
ethical and spiritual compass. In novels, movies and plays, historical and chronological time frames are the keys to character development. Just as historical foundations set the stage in the arts, our heritage serves as the foundation for our lives. We cannot fully understand our lives without comprehending the context of our beginnings.

“As we seek to understand and appreciate those who came before us, we step out of our own personal narratives and into theirs. We step back in time intellectually and emotionally to get a sense for what influenced them in their youth and adulthood. We wonder how our ancestors handled their challenges and struggles. Most of all, we begin to understand them as people, as human beings trying to find their way in a world that was different, yet strikingly similar to the world we inhabit.

“I think that the importance of knowing our family heritage is that we seek out how the generations before us did it, which helps us to do it better. I encourage you – whoever you are, whatever family background you come from, wherever you are going – to honor the heritage and legacy that is yours and yours alone. Share family stories. Allow your common family history to draw you closer together. Don’t miss any opportunity to visit and vacation with relatives. Let the remembrances you share be monuments to your family’s storied heritage.

“Explore remote, almost forgotten family paths together. Pathfinding is a family-enrichment activity. It has the same effect as family prayer – it holds families together. It establishes the links for passing family torches from generation to generation.

“Each generation has to learn important lessons from the previous one. That willingness to learn from each other and apply the family lessons will produce the dividends of sound family values and philosophies. In this way, each generation leaves its own legacy.”

In my book, I also gathered stories from my late father, who passed at 95. I will always have his stories as a legacy.

PATRICIA RASKIN, owner of Raskin Resources Productions, is a media host, coach and award-winning radio producer and business owner. She is on the board of directors of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence. She is a recipient of the Providence Business News 2020 Leaders and Achievers award.