Friday 27th May 2022

What Is Your Legacy? 25/2022.

What Is Your Legacy? 25/2022.


This post contains some thoughts of mine about old age, dying, regret, love & old familial relationships. I know some people may be affected by reading my thoughts. They are just my thoughts. I tell my story with my truth and honesty. Always. However, to protect certain people there are no names or situations/settings mentioned. Denyse.




I really never gave this question, ‘what is your legacy?’  much thought until I watched Hamilton and then knew the lyrics so well I was stopped in my tracks when I heard Alexander Hamilton speak (Lin Manuel Miranda credit) these lines almost at the end:


Had I ever thought of what my legacy might be? No.

Had I ever considered that I might share with someone what HIS/HER legacy for me has been?

Well, yes, I can.

What happened next?

After seeing visions like these


and remembering Lin’s amazing words…..

Masked Up for Hamilton in Sydney May 2021.

I decided to share with my 98 year old Dad, what his legacy was for me.

But wait.

It is about the richness of the individual’s life, including what that person accomplished and the impact he or she had on people and places. Ultimately, the story of a person’s life reflects the individual’s legacy. Wikipedia.

Now, read on!

I have been at odds with my father over the years. But always knew he loved/s me and cares for and about me.

I have also known how much he welcomed me into his life when he and Mum had me in 1949. Not a familiar pose for us, but here we are on my wedding day 1971.


A memory of Dad, Mum and my brother for his special zero birthday in 2002.

Mum died in 2007 and Dad has spent the past 15 years alone. He moved from the family home in 2011 to an independent living unit where he remains. Mum’s dying words, were, to an extent “look after your father”….and of course, whilst he IS independent I have tried to do this.


But for his 9oth Birthday above, he actually had to pass on much of the planning and organisation (to me, my brother & sil, and his grandkids too) for this event to be as special as it was. He STILL refers to the emotional reaction it caused 8 years later.

Dad did have a lot happen in his life, not least, when his Dad died in 1935 leaving him, his older sister and younger siblings with no father. This part of Telling My Story tells more.

Personality types that are similar will often clash. Yes, that is us. Both Type A and want to be in control and in charge. 

Has it helped my relationship with my dad that I continued to hold old memories of being judged?

No not really. Nor has it helped my conflict within me.


Easy to read…and to say…harder to do but OH so worth it!

Lessing judging, and comparing and BEing…where you are


What did it take for things to thaw and to change?

I can truthfully say that I needed to accept my responsibility for my behaviour, thinking and feeling. 

This is not an easy thing to do BUT it requires:

  • acceptance
  • self compassion
  • kindness
  • examination of any evidence
  • and love….

Most of my thinking was concerned with perceptions of what “he” thought about me and I acknowledge that I “believed” this too. I cannot really rehash those details because they no longer serve me. I had some parts of  rubbish thinking  to question (is it true? how do you know?) and to examine and then let them go.

It has taken me the past five years to do this. And, the most recent 6 or so months for it all to come together in my mind.

Naturally my practice of meditation each day and night has helped change my thoughts and beliefs, as has some of the reading and learning from many sources.

Having a serious illness called cancer diagnosed for me in May 2017 was a game-changer of sorts because I had much to do to get myself well, and Dad would let me know how much he considered me both brave and strong.

In fact, even lately he has told me: I don’t think I could have ever done what you did. And he also told me that about taking on the principal role as he said I was offered a CEO role, and knocked it back. I didn’t want to be away from home.

What Did I Share With Dad? 

Dad, you’ve left me a legacy of:

Music and singing along with it….we know how much you enjoyed music in your life, as Gran played piano and taught it too. And yes, dear readers, I am a music lover from the war years, sentimental tunes and songs from musicals. Dad was the person who organised for me & bro to see the Beatles.

Enjoying socialising and the company of others for a meal, coffee and catch up.

Education Oh how much I am glad of this life long love of it that I have been so fortunate, Dad, that you encouraged and insisted on getting tertiary qualifications and we all know how that went. Very well indeed. Dad actually has what he refers to as history lessons each week with friends where he lives. He loves keeping his mind active

Love & care for family. At times it may not have been done subtly and at times I may not be as patient as I could be either Dad, but we know how much we love and care for our family…and in their ways they love us.

Interacting .…reading,  news watching, listening  and engaging with some topics. I also cannot engage with dad on some, so we leave that!!

Organisation and planning. Yes, thanks Dad.

With My Dad, His Mother (Gran, left) and her Mother, Nana (r)

And it’s not what WE think may be our legacy that matters, it’s what others consider to be the legacy.

I know Dad was quite chuffed and taken aback when I shared this with him recently.

Have you got someone in your life that you’d feel sharing the legacy they have left for you is important to share? As Mum used to say “tell people what their lives have meant to you BEFORE their funerals!” Good one, Mum. And yes, we did for you!


Joining in with Natalie for Weekend Coffee Share today

Thank you Natalie.






  1. This is such a good reminder Denyse, to tell people what their legacy is for us before their funerals! Your dad must be very proud of you and all you’ve done and I can imagine how chiuffed he would be to hear the things you’ve talked about here. Just lovley!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks Debbie, I think that he has mellowed considerably and I have become far less concerned about what I used to worry about in the past so it was timely to do it! He was chuffed and then I played him some excerpts of the music he loved and I have as memories too, and his face brightened so much.

      I am, in my own way, preparing for his funeral…whenever it may be…by coming up with music he loves and he is quite fine with me talking about it too. So I have “Dad’s Memories by Denyse” as one such playlist!!

      And I said to him half joking, “Dad, we still have the power point from your 90th and considering you don’t want many/any photos now, we can use it!”…..

      Brave conversations are important. Very important.


  2. Hi Denyse – it’s really good that you can see the positive parts of your Dad’s legacy. I struggle to find any positives from my Dad’s legacy, but at the same time that is a legacy in itself because it inspired me to live a life that reflected my own values and my own investment in others. I really hope that my kids see that and that in my old age they’ll have time to spend with me (how nice would that be?) Family is so important and the only thing you leave behind when you go is your legacy – it’s more important that we realize isn’t it?

    • Thanks Leanne, yes it isn’t something that came easily for me but like all things,..age apparently mellows some of us. This has happened for Dad. He has needed to be more humble and accepting of others. We still have robust conversations…and I still tell him what I won’t talk about when he gets into a conversation based on our adult kids.

      So, whilst he has taught me about the ‘what to do/be’ he has also left me the legacy of what not to do/be in terms of relationships with my adult kids and grandkids. It’s hard !!

      I am sorry about your Dad and your life with him.

      I am now of the opinion that I can’t leave some things unsaid that I may regret so in part that was why I wanted Dad to know this now. Not for his funeral.

      Take care,


  3. The legacy question. I would say I am very similar to Leanne’s response above.

    Thank you for sharing this post Denyse. As a side note, I love how you spell your name!

    • I could have probably said more like Leanne’s 5-10 years ago too, WS, but time and acknowledgement of my faults and foibles too has helped soften my thinking.

      I am glad I could find the generosity of spirit, along with kindness to tell Dad this while he is alive.

      My name….Dad chose that spelling…lol! Mum wanted me to be called Denise – Dad wanted Jennifer…so he registered my name as DenYse Jennifer!!

      Take care,


  4. Aw, I bet your dad was so touched to hear what his legacy was in your eyes.

  5. What a beautiful way of expressing it. I haven’t really thought much on this, but can’t help but ponder the question now – both in terms of my parents & what my daughter would say about me.

    • Thank you, Jo.

      I am so self-critical that I find it hard to even believe some of the good that I might do/be….but making this decision to do this for Dad helped soften my views about myself.

      I see us all, as Brene Brown would say, doing the best we can, at the time, with what we have.

      Interesting to be less self critical and allow some peace within. I am enjoying that for me right now…don’t take as long as I have!!

      Take care


  6. Hi Denyse, It’s very good that you talk about your Dad’s legacy with him now. He must be touched to hear the positive impact that he’s had on you. Thank you for your weekend coffee share. Have a wonderful week!

    • Thanks so much Natalie. I found it very caring and kind to do this. He was touched and no doubt he will have more to share with me about his reaction when I catch up with him next.

      Take care,


  7. I am glad you have had time to understand your father and appreciate his legacy. my father died over 40 years ago so our relationship never progressed much beyond the stroppy teenage phase. Now I have children and grandchildren I know I would understand him much better.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thank you so much Anne. I am sorry your Dad died so long ago…and yes to the “stroppy” teen years….

      But I like how you say now things would be quite different. I so understand.

      Take care,


  8. It sounds like you had wonderful dad like I did.

  9. This is such a profound post, thank you so much for sharing it here with us. My maternal Grandma did a journaling exercise once on what each her parents and (3 of 4) grandparents believed/taught/showed her through action which essentially became what each of their legacies were as she carried them forward. When I found these pages, in draft form and scribbled about almost into illegibility, my heart leapt. I don’t know if she ever shared her thoughts with any of them while they lived, but I have the gift of knowing them through her now because she took the time to reflect on how they continued to live through/within her and I will be forever grateful for that. It sounds as though you and your father are two peas, I have no doubt he learned as much from you as you did from him.

    • Thank you Melissa for your kind comment and sharing about your Grandmother! Wow. To have found those words was such a bonus to know more about your connection to her and her life as well.

      We DO need to share more but oh my, not everyone wants to that is for sure.

      Maybe it takes the perspective of old(er) age me watching much oldER Dad as he lives his final months/years and getting the chance while I could but also how much I had to do for myself to resist the old patterns of thinking and starting to engage with ones of gratitude and love.

      We are two peas in a pod…and sadly I have made some parenting errors (like his were for me) with my adult kids too….lessons we learn in life!

      Take care,


  10. I’m late to reading blogs this week… but had to comment on this one. My dad passed away many years ago and I never had (took) the opportunity to tell him what his legacy to me was. I think I was too young to gasp the concept of legacy! Now, my mom’s significant cognitive decline means she will not really understand the concept. I am so glad your dad was able to understand it from you. I know both my parens knew/know I love them dearly. And it’s nice for me to think through the legacy they left me, so I appreciate that you shared the concept.

    • Thanks so much Patricia and I understand that not everyone gets the privilege of what I was able to do. Yes it was good to see Dad light up when I shared the words and then I played some excerpts of music that I know are from his fave life years and he smiled from ear to ear telling me about those memories too.

      I do think we know that our parents love us and cared about us but I value the chance I got to tell my mother that at her 80th birthday before she became very unwell and that Dad got to hear his at 98.

      Take care,


  11. That was so good. I loved the quote you shared at the beginning. I’ve been thinking a lot about this sort of thing lately, the legacy we and others leave. I lost my dad last july and while we weren’t always close and growing up was rough, I knew he loved us, I was able to get over the past and have a relationship with him at whatever level I could..he did leave a legacy and as I sat in the hospital with him I knew he could hear me so I just spoke life over him and shared with him the things I learned from him.

  12. This is really nice. Legacy does not need to be big and tangible like a program, but rather what skills and qualities did you pass to someone that has made an impact.

Denyse values & reads every comment written, thank you. There is always a reply.