Capture the Memories

October 10, 2014
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Shaver Lake is just a few miles north east of Fresno, California. Some 45 years ago my grandparents purchased a lot just off the lake’s shore and the collective family built a beautiful cabin. I remember traveling there as a child to help my parents, aunts and uncles with the construction. This would eventually become a wonderful destination for years of family fun and vacation gatherings.

I remember many summers in the early 1970’s at the cabin with my extended family. Each night nestled in our warm sleeping bags we would tell scary stories, share funny experiences and dream of the next day’s activities. Would we enjoy a variety of water sports on the lake, take a challenging mountain hike, go fishing over by Daisy Rock or travel to Ken’s Market in the village for an afternoon ice cream cone? The nights seemed like Christmas Eve as we struggled to fall asleep dreaming of tomorrow’s fun filled activities.

It was on Shaver Lake that I learned to slalom water ski at the age of 12. It’s a sport that I have loved for years. On many early mornings we would rise before the sun and make the short cool walk down through the tall pine trees to the shoreline and quietly ready the boat for a morning ski ride. The lake was calm and glassy, untouched by other boater or fishermen. Being the first ones on the lake meant we had the first shot at undisturbed water. “Smooth as a baby’s bottom”, we used to say! For diehard water skiers, this was one of the best times to be on the lake.

I received my Boy Scouts of America Swimming Merit Badge on Shaver Lake by swimming the length of the dam in order to meet one of the requirements. I remember feeling exhausted wondering if I would ever make it to the end. We visited the cabin during the wintertime as well. Building snow caves, riding large blown up inner tubes and sleds down some very challenging hills grace my memory.

My experiences at Shaver Lake comprise a wonderful range of great memories, all because my grandparents and their children decided to build a beautiful cabin. Their hard work and financial investment created for me, and all those who visited, an array of special memories that I will never forget.

As I work with clients and we talk about legacy, I think about my family’s cabin at Shaver Lake. Now, don’t get me wrong, one does not have to purchase and/or build a family cabin to fulfill one’s legacy desires and being engaged in legacy doesn’t have to be financial. It can be so much more! For those interested in leaving a legacy, I would encourage some quiet time to deeply ponder this topic and formulate a meaningful game plan.

The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines legacy as something (such as property or money) that is received from someone who has died. It also notes legacy as something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor. What are you doing to create a lasting legacy?

I think of my 101 year-old grandfather who has spent considerable time organizing family history photo books and compiling a spiral bound booklet of his favorite quotes and sayings he has memorized over the years. He handed out dozens of copies at a recent family gathering. I think of a friend who hosts a summer fun-filled camp for her grand daughters every year or others who spend significant time writing family histories or planning for annual reunions.

I reminded of a client who called me last year desiring to set aside $45,000 for 9 grandchildren ($5,000 each) for college tuition funding. The grandchildren ranged from 4 to 18. He wondered what was the best way to accomplish this desire. Another client, with significant financial holdings, is structuring a portion of his estate to provide a guaranteed retirement income stream for his two children. Additionally, I have another client who provides 100% financial support for their grand daughter who competes across California in the sport of mountain bike racing. From personal experience I can attest that this can be expensive.

When reviewing estates, I am often informed that certain assets will be passed on to a son or daughter or to a designated charity at their passing. This is fine, but I often encourage my clients to use some of their money to capture lasting memories today, while they are still alive. Seeing the smiles and experiencing the deepening of relationships can be such a rewarding experience.

Remember the memorable poem entitled Maud Muller from 1856 written by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892). Google the poem as it is worth reading. The poem contains the well known quotation: “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!'”

Cast your mind to the future and resolve to create more meaningful memories today, maybe akin to mine of Shaver Lake.