What Legacy Are You Going To Leave?

While I have attended many industry seminars and conferences and enjoy a good motivational speaker, one that really sticks with me is Dr. Jerry Linenger, a retired U.S. Navy flight surgeon and NASA astronaut.

“Jerry Linenger” by NASA – Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

His story is reported to be one of the most dangerous and dramatic missions in space history. Spending nearly five months aboard the Russian space station Mir, Jerry faced many life threatening events including repeated failure of the life support systems, a near miss between the space station he was living on and the re-supply spacecraft.  There were also several computer failures that sent the space station tumbling uncontrollably through space. And what I think was the worse of all was when he and his fellow astronauts narrowly survived a raging, smoke-billowing fire that was later described as the most severe fire ever aboard an orbiting spacecraft.

During this fire, Dr. Linenger stated that he had an overwhelming and recurring thought, that he hadn’t left anything behind for his newborn son. My first thought, being that I was at a financial conference, was that he is going to say something about a legacy of an inheritance or life insurance. But he went on to explain that when he started this mission, his wife was pregnant and he wished he had left a letter for his infant son to read when he got older. He wanted to tell his son about himself and how much he was loved. His regret was that his son would never hear the words, “I love you” coming from his father.  Here is where my instincts as a mother came in, along with some tears; I noticed Dr. Linenger’s sincerity and compassion.

Dr. Linenger had survived many events in outer space. All of which made him realize how much his wife and children meant to him. He made a vow to himself that he would tell them, on a daily basis, just how much loves and cares for them. Having confronted the possibility that he would never be able to do that again, he now makes it a purpose that they hear those words from him every day.

While you and I might not ever live on a space station for months at a time, we do spend time away from our families, and you never know what tomorrow will bring.  So I suggest, as part of your daily life, saying, “I love you” to those you care about and creating a financial and estate plan that will continue to provide the lifestyle you have created for your family.

I hope that you will ask yourself:

What will I leave behind for my family?

Will they know for certain that I loved and cared for them to the best of my ability?

Have I instilled in my children the values I would like to see carried forward to the next generation?

While financial and estate planning are a necessity for your family’s future well being, Dr. Linenger realized the importance of this other personal family planning at a time when it might have been too late.

Don’t miss your opportunity to leave a legacy behind for your family!

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