Letter of Life Celebration – Sample 1 (excerpt only)
I am the eldest of Jim and Jo Madden’s eight children. I was named after Rosemary for remembrance and it was post World War II, and Jane my great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother. Whilst I never knew my great-great-grandmother, Mary Jane Jones, I look like her. My great-grandmother, however, Elizabeth Jane May (nee Jones) has been in my soul since I was a little girl. Although our lives have been very different, I have always felt very connected to her. It isn’t because she showered me with gifts such as pretty dresses and teddy bears and watched me dance on the table when I was three, but because my basic nature is similar to hers.
I have been a quiet person all my life and very comfortable in my own ways. I spent most of my childhood sitting alone reading or reflecting on life or caring for my younger siblings. I cared for others so it seems all my life and now in my later years, I want to do what I always wanted to do but never had the skills or opportunities, and that is writing.
We never had pens, pencils and paper as young children or even books to read. I discovered books when I was about eight years of age when the local library man came to my school. The Librarian invited everyone down to the Library and of course, I took it personally, as I always take things personally.
Down to the local library, I went that afternoon and introduced myself to the wonderful world of books, imagination and storytelling. Somehow I managed to pass on this love of books to my daughter and she has passed it on to her daughter. In my later life, I took a life as a personal historian and became engrossed in other people’s life stories and reflections. This wasn’t altogether strange as, during my nursing career of 45 years, I always was fascinated by people’s stories – absolute treasures that go unnoticed and become lost with time.
I have a fundamental belief in storytelling whether it is fictional or nonfictional. I find this ability to connect to other people or fictional characters deeply inspirational. It has helped me develop a deeper understanding of the complexities of human nature and gather some wisdom that perhaps I may not have experienced.
I feel I have not always been a wise person and put this down to a naivety I have always felt. I wasn’t exposed to any different experiences or opportunities in my childhood and I think this left me always embracing new perspectives and situations. I feel I always want to understand and experience what other people have lived, even though in many cases that never would be possible due to issues such as money, health, family responsibilities and even health. However, I would struggle as I tried to ‘be in someone else’s shoes’ if you will and see and feel what they experience and gain an understanding of their perspective.
Life is so short and I wish I could have lived my life backwards so I could use the attitudes and knowledge that I now have to live e a fuller life. Times have changed and families give children more opportunities just as I tried to give my children more opportunities.
Letter of Life Celebration – Sample 2 (excerpt only)
By the time I was 10 years of age, I had been to 8 schools and lived in 10 different houses and towns. My father was an engineer and our family moved continuously in my young life and middle childhood. This had the effect on me of always being the new boy in the school, always being the outsider and never developing trust that stability brings.
Once I married and settled down, I felt a commitment to provide a stable life for my family. I was lucky I married a girl who also valued stability and family togetherness, and together we built our family and life from the foundations up.
Putting your family before everything else is a significant cornerstone belief that I hold and I hope I have passed this onto my children and grandchildren. The stability that a settled life brings reaches out into community activities such as Scouts, sport and neighbourhood and so good friends and support systems. I so much enjoyed everything that these things gave me. My days as a Venturer Leader, Aussie Rules Treasurer, camping cook and bottle-washer and of course chief barbeque hand at the street parties gave me and my children much more than I gave.
I hold all these things dear to me and everything that they gave to my family. I sincerely hope those that come after me, hold these core personal values close to their hearts and allow them to draw their family closer together.
Working hard is a rite of passage to self-esteem and fulfilment. I stayed pretty stable in my working life, but I always worked hard and to the best of my ability. My first job was at a BP Petrol Station in the days when petrol was served to the waiting motorist and the money taken in cash through the car window. I was quick, polite and pleasant to the waiting motorist and always cleaned their windscreen with a smile.
I was so pleased when both my children had their first jobs at McDonalds Hamburger joint as I knew they would learn so much about customer service and providing quality employment, both prerequisites to job satisfaction.
My working life took me initially into Phillips Petroleum and carbon black. I remember the day they had their Christmas party in the carbon black factory and the kids came out of the day looking like they were chimney sweeps out of Mary Poppins. I think Rose, my wife, was glad when Phillips closed down and I stopped walking that carbon black onto the carpet each night.
Somehow I ended up in the Poker Machine Industry in Government Regulation. It was not what I expected when I finished my Marketing Degree and actually I was quite uncomfortable finding employment in that Industry initially. But I was unemployed and had mouths to feed, so I took the job until something else comes along, I told myself. Thirty years later, I think I am regarded as the old man of the Industry, and even though I see the same wheels turning after each company takeover, I embrace the Industry with the same enthusiasm and hard work I muster to everything I do.
I have made many friends in the Gambling Industry (and a few enemies I expect) and I am grateful that I have been able to contribute to a profession in a significant way.
Hard work is the core of good mental health. It leaves you exhausted but with a feeling about yourself and your capabilities that nothing else can give you. It doesn’t seem to matter what you, whether it be at work, in the garden or in the community, as long as you do it to the best of your ability. I am so glad my children are hard workers and I hope my grandchildren and great-grandchildren take this philosophy into their lives.
A sample of a Personal Letter of Life Celebration
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