Transitions With Jean Blog

Thirty minutes that changed a life forever

June 2, 2019

Lori Coonen from Living My Legacy shared this experience with me:

“My story begins with a death. And while that may not sound like the best of introductions to a tale of hope and promise, it is, in fact, the perfect bookend to a life-changing experience that was made possible for one family.

During my ‘Legacy Journaling’ class at an assisted living facility, I offered to record for students who had difficulty typing. Sam took me up on the offer. Before Christmas, I sat with Sam for 30 minutes. In our brief time together, his focus was on sharing the details of his career path. I recorded our conversation and burned a CD so that Sam could share his stories with his family.

In January, I received a call that my student, Sam, had died.

I attended the visitation and after waiting in the long line, I was finally able to talk to Sam’s widow, Joan, with her children standing next to her. She told me that in the final hours of Sam’s life, the entire family was gathered around his bed as Sam lay there with his eyes closed – for several days he had been lying motionless. As they were gathered, she asked one of her sons if he could play the CD of Sam’s conversation that we had recorded. Joan hadn’t yet listened to it.

Then a smile appeared on her face. Joan said Sam’s whole family listened as the conversation played – Sam was sharing the highlights of his career path, the specific experiences and the lessons he learned. For 30 minutes Sam’s wife and children sat beside him, holding his hands and listening to his stories. They were 30 perfect minutes.

Joan and each of the children thanked Sam for the wonderful gift of the recording. Next, Joan told me, Sam’s eyes opened, and he briefly gazed upon the faces of his family. It was as if he had struggled to hold onto his life just long enough to share this last gift, Joan said. And when the gift, at last, was delivered and he knew he sounded okay on the recording (she joked), he was ready to give up the fight.

Each child thanked me for the opportunity that I had provided for their father to share his story – it meant the world to them.

How many parents and grandparents are out there today, waiting and anxious to share their life experiences, lessons and values with their families? Would it be valuable to you to know the ‘best’ of that person has been preserved in such a way that it will lift up, educate, motivate and guide generations of the family to come?

This Father’s Day, give the gift of time to your father, grandfather or someone who inspires you. Offer to document their important stories and celebrate their Legacy. Be sure to take the next step and share them with the rest of the family.”

You can read more of Lori Coonen’s ideas at

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