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Positive values are the best inheritance

It is customary, in the Third Third, to write a document, a last will and testament that dictates the disposition of your worldly goods. Thus, I have declared my intentions for the distribution of my prized possessions: my mother's wedding band, Grandma's prayer book, Aunt Celia's locket and the ring Dad gave me to seal my betrothal.

Any money that will be left (and I'll try to make sure that only my last check will bounce) has been assigned mostly to my children and grandchildren as a gift in thanks for the pleasures they've given me by being who they are, and to make their lives a little easier. But my dear children, you will note that I have taken out a goodly portion to donate to those causes in which I believe and want to support.

It is my belief that by then you will have earned and saved enough from your own labors so that my contribution will not have an appreciable effect on your lifestyle. A living will has also been written to assist you and my attending physician in allowing me to end my life gracefully and without artificial and heroic sustaining measures. As much as I enjoy life, and am living it to the fullest now, I wouldn't want to extend it for one day beyond my natural life span. But there is more that I want to bequeath to you when I leave the earth: It is that ethical will that needs to be spelled out while I am of sound mind and body. We gave you a healthy body.

Continue to respect, enjoy and take care of it. We gave you the opportunity for as much education as you wanted. Continue to learn. Know who you are. It is my fervent hope that I have already passed on to you the positive values I inherited from my parents, and that you will make sure that your children and theirs understand the moral duty and obligation that each person has to the other.

I trust you know that kind deeds and charity are the proper way of life, and to not do to others what you would not have them do to you. You can make a difference. Strive to become more than we were. Find fulfillment with others in working for the betterment of the world. You must aim for the loftiest idealism, difficult as it may seem under the pressure of the tremendous trifles of everyday life. But you must take time out for yourself and the understanding that we each have an obligation to share our riches and talents, especially with those less fortunate. Therein is the quality of life and the true meaning of worth.

To know that you have done so will give you a pride and self-esteem that you will carry with you forever and that no one can wrest from you. And, as if that's not enough for a mother to give to her children, I relinquish to you the wonders of the world if you will only take time to appreciate them. And, because I can't take them with me, I leave for you what I value so much: Clouds floating aimlessly as if they owned the sky. Laughter -- laugh a lot; it feels so good.

Flowers to smell and look at and remind you of how fragile life is. Birds, if there are any left by the time our generation has finished with the earth. And puppy dogs, especially rubbing their soft, tender bellies.

Children asleep -- well, you know, you've melted over them. And the joy of having finished a job well done. Oceans are also pretty wonderful. And so are good friends. Forests full of trees remind us of the perpetuity of life. Enjoy a mild wind on the cheeks, Rhapsody in Blue, a kiss. An unexpected phone call from a loved one. A rainbow.

Mostly, I wish for you a life that has been as great and as wonderful an adventure as mine has been. This is your inheritance, the precious jewels I will to you. And you thought all you were getting were a few measly dollars and my silverware.