My family just moved. We touched 15 years of memories, packed some and threw others away. If you are anything like me, events like these cause us to reflect how much the kids have grown, how time has passed, and what has or has not changed. I also find myself engaging in a very frustrating ritual - looking back the things that never got done.
We bought a lot with beautiful, mature trees and placed the house on the property to maximize the benefit of their shade and fall color. What we didn’t know was that a tornado was going to level the newly framed, freshly roofed house and tear down each of those 30–plus-year old trees. The loss of the house was an inconvenience. We lost six months progress, razed the rubble and started again. But the trees; those could not be easily replaced. I was honestly more sad about losing those trees than anything else. I resolved to replant the trees and make it better than before. Fifteen years later and having left that home, I never did plant a single tree.
Fifteen years seems like a long time. However, with an endless stream of work, church, sports activities (both the kids, and mine), family responsibilities, and the occasional break from the daily chaos, not everything gets done. Time and perspective compress. What I want for tomorrow is often forced to wait ‘til tomorrow.
What are the things in your life that have real, non-negotiable, irreplaceable value? The list might include your faith, character, work ethic, family story, or just lessons taught to you by parents and countless others over the years that have helped shape you into who you currently are. These are things that were planted a long time ago, have been watered, pruned and nurtured over time.
As I work with my clients, eventually everyone wants to make sure that what they have built in the way of assets and property is efficiently passed on to their heirs. The tools are readily available to move the tangible assets from one generation to another. Unfortunately, it is not nearly as simple to transfer the real wealth of your family: the values, character, knowledge, and understanding of where you come from. These, like the missed trees on my lot, need to be planted. They take time to grow and mature.
Have you taken the time to discover what those things of value are in your family? What were you taught by those before you? What have you learned the hard way? Are you planting those values in the lives of your children and grandchildren?
I am going to plant trees at the new house – it’s time. Of course it’s possible that I might never see them fully mature. What I have learned over the last 15 years though tells me that’s not the most important thing.