Legacies are not just financial

Having dealt with two sudden deaths in the family and facing up to my increased risk of stroke with AT, I have realised the importance of making a Will. That made me think about how much of my possessions will mean little without their 'back story', and that a stroke , whilst not finishing me off, could leave me unable to pass on that story. I'm not going to write my life story, but I am going to photograph some things that mean a lot to me and add some details about them. I'll put this with my will, and if a stroke does rob me of speech or memory skills, there will be something to fall back on. The exercise may also help with the decluttering that needs doing when you realise how much 'stuff' you have accumulated and there is no more space.

57 Replies

  • What a super idea.

    Can I add to that thought, that if like me you wish to donate any organs which might be of use to anyone else, that you also not merely register and document it, but that you make your close family aware of your request. Decisions are harder enough for them in the event of our deaths, and it will only make it easier for them.

    Be well


  • And what about body donation? The University of Liverpool's Bequeathal Office phone number is 0151 794 5442 if you want to find out more.

  • PS Not all bodies scare medical students: some are used for operations so that a surgeon can have a practice run before doing the same thing on a live person.

  • I thought we couldn't do things like donate blood or organs if we were on warfarin, is that right?

  • I thought blood no but organs yes. Maybe I am wrong.

  • Interesting and raises a few questions. For generations items have been passed down in our family. Several clocks, both carriage, long case and black-forest, The Family Bible, an original Victorian High Chair, Victorian Tantalus, those sorts of things. I recently asked my sons if they would continue the tradition. WHAT???? Sell them!!

    I know when I have gone they will just cash in on this stuff or even worse take it to the skip so why do we keep it all? Family life has changed in the last generation and not for the better.

  • I think you are right there Bob about what they now call (stuff) things have changed . The most precious thing to me are all the family videos I have taken over the years also cine film my parents took many years ago. my husband has now copied most of them to DVDs. I have some of my mum and dad who have both passed away now but its lovely to see them and hear their voices. I have my wedding day which was 46 years ago many memories of my children when they were little. I am now adding my one year old grandson to the collection so they can have living memories of family and friends both my son and daughter love to watch them. will they keep them in the future only time will tell.

  • I am afraid you will need to put onto computer, preferably a cloud. Many under 40s (and even some under 50) these days do not have CDs nor anything to play or watch them on!!!!!

    You need to be carful how you set it up or it could disappear when you die.

    This is a significant issue these days and apply to videos, photos, music, etc. Sometimes old photos were easier!!!!

  • Most of it is has already been saved but I also have many photo albums. I love taking photos.

  • Yes - the Doomsday Project is a case in point as it was put onto laser disc which was seen as the medium of the future.

  • Tell them you'll haunt their motorcars and not in a good way if they sell the Bible 💀

  • I had been thinking about this lately. I need to put names on the backs of photos and make reference notes on the family trees that I researched years ago.

    I have told the local undertaker that if he can't get his hearst into my drive because my 2 sons have installed a skip then he is to tell them that I will return to haunt them.

    I have put my sons onto my current bank account so that it does not die with me and my money can be accessed on-going. I discussed this with my bank manager who had a joint account with her own father. I was able to do this because I can trust my sons absolutely.

    I also have a file labelled " important papers" for quick access. The biggest problem is getting the boys to take notice - they don't want to face the prospect of my death. Whilst I'm sure that AF won't kill me, something definitely will.

  • My husband always likes to cheer me up when I feel worried by the effects of AF by saying 'if that doesn't get you, something else will, so stop worrying'. Thinking of taking up kick boxing . . . 😊

  • What worries me is not dying but rather ending up drooling in a corner. I'm one that would take myself off to Switzerland and get the job done myself, but how do you do that if you can't communicate. Scary. We have a family member in that state now, although not a stroke. It is truly heart breaking.

    PS. I've also got a family tree going back at least to 1000 AD with 4,000 people in it. Taken me years. No-one seems interested in keeping it going when I'm gone. Don't understand, it's fascinating if nothing else.

  • I watched my dad battle with Alzeimers for many years it is a devastating illness He didn't know who we were he was unable to speak and in the end he was not able to eat. he should have been allowed to pass away a long time before he did. so much suffering

  • People are very brave fighting to the end, I sometimes wonder if it is worth it when most have a stack of lethal drugs on hand. My Aunt was housebound with arthritis of the neck and spine and said that she would never go into a care home. She nodded to a dish on her mantelpiece and said when I am ready I will take my BIG PILL with some brandy. I asked where she got the pill and she said that she got it from someone in one of the organisations who supplied her with aids for the house. She was always my favourite relative and when I visited Edinburgh she was always my first port of call. I usually phoned to see if she needed anything taken to her. One day she asked for a bottle of brandy. I took it to her and asked if she was about to take her Big Pill. Not yet she said. She had used the last bottle when she had a cold.

    One day I got a call from her other nephew to say that she was in hospital after having had a massive stroke, she died the next day. I asked him if she had told him about the Big Pill but he did not believe me but he said that she had been found lying on her bed fully dressed even hat and coat on after having phoned 999 and her front door had been left open. That must have been the first time she had her outdoor clothes on for at least six years.

  • Spooky!

  • Maybe she had put her outdoor clothes on for her journey.

  • Obviously and her big pill must have worked very quickly. I wonder what was in it and I can't remember who she said gave it to her.

  • I agree with you Koll, Dying doesn't concern me, it happens whenever our use by date comes up - it's the drooling in a corner, being unaware of surroundings is what I would like to avoid . A close mate of mine had to have his beloved 14 year old golden retriever put down - he observed the peaceful passing after injection and thought, yep that's the way I want go. Bring on the euthanasia laws pull your fingers out politician politicians, I say.

    Cheers and here's to a long healthy life :)


  • Were you being sarcastic? Or have you really gone back that far? Would like to go back further in my research, but stuck now in 17?? somewhere in Norfolk!!!!

  • Yes 1000 years, possibly more but it becomes more flakey then. I got stuck for years in the 17-1800's and then came across an ancestor who had married a female member of "aristocrat" family with a French sounding name. Then following her line back and it just exploded with most of the records being fairly well documented, she of course went back to the French invasion. I used ancestry.co.uk, wikipedia, geni.com and some other sources.

    I've also discovered my wife and I are related, but going back about 800 years so think we're OK!!!

  • Thank you, very much.....thats really interesting....I shall try and find a bit more on the Bucks of Norfolk......!!!! Even a bit of a research is a good distraction from AF sometimes!! Might need a bit more advice in future though.....? ......that OK?

    The other lot (MILLS) were apparently gypsies so probably harder to trace I imagine!

  • My husband and I have often wished we had gathered more information about our families' lives, which from what we do know were very interesting, when we had the chance. As it was we were so wrapped up in our own lives all we have are stories they chose to tell us and photos with no captions!

    I have a couple of 'Grandparent books' to fill in but I'm thinking a scrapbook would be better. From a historical perspective ordinary lives are as interesting as 'great' ones but in fact our lives were 'different' and worth recording.

  • The problem is that grandparents were never very communicative about their or their parents lives.

  • Not too sure about donating my body... it could scar a medical student for life. I can't look at a Mr Henry vacuum cleaner after something I saw tattooed on a body. That is another story.

    We are decluttering, I am selling all my vinyls, husband has a full set of crystals dragons, no one wants them, so mabe these will be a car boot clearance when the weather gets warmer.

    we did a recent house clearance, husband and wife died within eight weeks of each other, we had an open house and invited friends and family in to take what they would like. We did manage to sell more of the valuable things, this money went to the Estate for the two daughters, the run to the tip was daily for two weeks. a lot of the furniture got donated to Charities. The only thing my daughter wants is the Dinner Service I have and the canteen of gold cutlery. My son wants the Champage flutes I bought in Italy, so hey ho I know know where our stuff will go. So we are selling what we can get a few shekels for and getting rid of the rest. we are having a monthly declutter day. Husband is on a tip run at the moment.

  • Article in daily mail or Sunday times a few weeks ago saying about the fact that vinyl is making a comeback and that many from 50s and 60s are worth quite a bit, particularily of they are the first released ones. Some worth 4 and 5 figures!!!! Quite often the price goes up 10 fold or more when the artist dies (as a few have in the last year).

  • Vinyl record shops are reopening.

  • I look at our precious items which have been with us for 50 years and realise, with sinking heart, that our 'precious' items are just someone else's house clearance task. I agree with Koll - death is not to be feared, it's getting there that can be dreadful in our society.

  • It seems nostalgia is not what it used to be .

    Having been in the same place 30 years or so have an excellent collection of stuff that will come in handy one day . every so often I shuffle stuff around throw out a bit then other things seem to expand and fill the vacant space. I even make excuses that I am in the middle of sorting stuff to the meter reader Reckon I could do my own series for channel 4

    .. now I really must sort out a will . I wonder who will make best use of my collection of rusty nails and screws.

  • LOL,You and my husband are soulmates!

  • What about all my gleaming tools and screws then???!!!!

  • Oh how right Bob was and Jennydog, things have changed and my husband and I remember fondly visiting family on Sundays, sitting quietly

    whilst the adults talked, no playing out on Sundays. Funny that because

    I wouldnt have said they were overly religious, although we always went

    to Sunday school, but Sundays were special and definately the day of rest.

    It seems these days that although most people have their own car not many folks visit their elderly relatives. Im always surprised how many

    people on the antique shows are busy selling what they freely admit has been passed down in the family, and in a lot of cases the item wasnt

    worth that much, but they have no sentimental attachment to it. I wonder

    if it is as we get older we begin to treasure things from our past. My

    husband and I often say we definately grew up in the best era, the 50s

    were our teenage years and although food and such were still scarce we

    had sufficient, make do and mend was the slogan and life was so gentle

    and innocent. Progress has been made in all areas of life which of course

    must happen, but much has been lost along the way. Whilst eating out

    some while ago we noted that most people who came in immediately

    took out their mobile phones layed them on the table and spent their

    time trying to hold a conversation and email at the same time. Children

    were pretty much ignored and parents just made no pretence of conversation. Oh dear Im definately getting long in the tooth.

    Does anyone else remember going on picnics during the summer holidays,

    weather was always good, Mum packed us jam and bread and a bottle

    Of water with jam added to make it look tasty, we used to find a stream somewhere and have a great time and it didnt cost a penny, happy days.

  • When our boys were younger we used to go out with Ramblers , I was a walk leader, and do all the picnic stuff. On one occasion with my father we had three generations of males out there with a combined age of 151. Now when we look back the boys say they hated it. Never seemed to at the time. ha ha.

    Still stands the clock at ten to three And is there honey still for tea. Honey's orf dear.(Songs for Swinging Sellers)


  • When I was a child children were sat at a separate table at family gatherings.

  • Such a good idea.

    When my dad died we cleared his house and it wasn't until we were reading some letters he'd written to my mother when he was a soldier in Italy during WW2 that we realised what we'd thrown out. He'd been wounded and while recuperating had made my mum a belt. Yes, we'd chucked it out! Mad dash to the charity shop, but they couldn't locate it. It was a hard lesson to learn.

    Its also a good idea to write on the back of photos the names of who it is.

  • I found some letters my Grandfather wrote from the trenches in 1915 to be opened at ages 1. 11 and 16 by my Father who had just been born when Grandfather left England. Priceless and so emotional. He was wounded at Passiondale but did survive the Great War and lived to be 94.

  • Do you still have them, or perhaps you have you donated them to a museum? Like you say, priceless.

  • My sister has the originals and I have photocopies which I used as part of a talk I gave on our family to PROBUS a few years ago,

  • I also have letters from the trenches from my grandfather to my grandmother he was wounded in France.He did get home but his wounds never healed and he died from the infection. leaving my grandmother with nine children my dad being one of them.

  • While having a will in place is essential equally important is to have a power of attorney document signed. If then you do have any accident/illness robbing you of your ability to handle your affairs everything needed for your family to help you is in place.

    Family will find it very hard and expensive to arrange after your you lose your abilities if not already done this

    Best be prepared!

    Great idea with photos and provenance, try and get round to that soon

  • Something we have been planning to do recently was investigating an old and worse for wear carving which vane from my gran via her gran. Wanted more info, for my granddaughter, and was astonished to find it was made 1560-1580! My kids would probably have junked it. No financial value, but been around since Elizabeth 1st, what changes it has seen. Just thought you might find it interesting.

  • Thank you for everyone who responded to my post. It has reassured me that my idea is not as mad as my husband seemed to think it was. What he doesn't realise is that my son's have not had that precious time with grandparents in which to be told the family 'legends', and now they are so busy that they don't have that sort of time with me either. I am sorry to say that when there has been a divorce, a lot of family history is lost when connections are broken.

  • We learned a very hard lesson when my husbands father went into a home and we had to clear his house for sale to pay for the care home fees. We arranged for someone to come and clear the property and it wasn't till all was (supposedly) skipped and cleared that we realised no one had his war medals. We asked the man clearing the house about them and he told us everything went in the skip (again supposedly, who would do that?). I was heartbroken when my Father in Law asked about them and I had to say I had given them to my Son, which he seemed happy about. My insides still turn over when I think of it.


  • I invited Barnando's to help themselves to the contents of an aunts home. The two who came seemed to separate thing in to two lots. We felt that one was for them and one for the charity.

  • Charities that take in and resell clothing have to allow for a lot of leekage I've been told. Sad. I took some quite nice clothes into a charity shop that wouldn't fit me any more, they seemed to have shrunk :-/ . Don't know how but I could tell that the two lads behind the counter were eyeing them up for their own pockets or to wear.

  • It is very strange how clothes shrink when unworn in a wardrobe between holidays.

  • I find they shrink between being packed to go away and the repacked to come home.

  • You must go on all inclusive holidays.

  • Many charities take any clothing at all (even rags) because they sell those. It is surprising how much they make on that. I know because one of the local charities logs everything against you as an individual as gift so they can reclaim the tax.

  • My hubby worries about this a lot, probably rightly, I'm sure a lot of our stuff will just look like junk to the kids though one daughter very definitely has her eyes on a ring of mine and tells me often that she wants it when I snuff it!

    I often think when I see the Antiques Roadshow, and people having no idea where beautiful items come from, that it's so sad that they've become detached from their story. They are like little voices from the past that we can't hear any more. I expect most of my pet things will end up in a skip. Oh well! We've made a will, it's about all you can do isn't it?

  • We had a big clear out when we moved ten years ago but somehow it has accumulated again.

  • Thank you for sharing this. I've been wanting to do the same thing. It would be a good use of my website and the 1000's of digital photos I've collected.

  • Thanks Kodaska

    Seem to have hit a rich vein here - must be our age.

  • Very little physical stuff matters, and the importance of what does matter comes from the connection it brings to the person. I have very few things that matter. They include some of my father's artwork (there's a lot, and it's already pretty well distributed), his book of poems (which I need to publish), and the oak Craftsman style bed I made a few years ago (which will go to my son). My daughter has the bed I made back in '75. No one will want my canoes, paddles, piano (my daughter has my old grand piano), bike, furniture, etc. My son might want some camping gear, but for practical reasons.

    Antiques, records and tapes, anything that doesn't connect directly with a person - all that is just so many rocks in one's backpack. Attachment is normal. We should reserve that energy for what matters, which is our connections to each other, not stuff that came down from someone no one remembers.

    End of lecture. My dad died in 1966 and I have to go sort through the box of nuts and bolts left over from his workshop. There are some really valuable wood screws in there.

  • 1966 ie 50 years ago?

  • Yup. I hate to point it out, but did you get the self-deprecation there?

You may also like...