Legacy – hmm – another theme that I found challenging to think through and set before you. Yes, this is the exceedingly late monthly international challenge, Tell Us About… set up by Gail from Is This Mutton.  I think it was a genius idea, Gail, as wow, does it make you think!


I say late as the others (see at the end for the lovely women who also posted on legacy) completed this about 10 days ago, but what with my recent holiday I couldn’t get it to you.


So, why not take a break from it and not do it at all? Well, I decided to take quite an acerbic view of the word, as I wanted to tell you a cautionary tale of how one really should never try to influence people from the grave with your legacy and, especially, never impact your children as you leave this planet. This is a story of what legacy should not be.  Note I really, really wondered whether I should post this. Am I over-sharing for starters? Is it too negative? But, I’ve decided I will post!!! Because this is legacy from my point of view.


So, taking the line that legacy is about wills, my father left an extraordinary will, which would have impacted me and my sister throughout the rest of our lives. I won’t go too far into the details, but he did not want his two son-in-laws to get their hands on either his money and eventually, my mother’s. Consequently, with my mother having what is known as a mirror will, he gave instructions that all their assets, financial or otherwise, should be tied up in two trusts and kept well away from both us and his sons-in-law.


This, btw, wasn’t to avoid tax, in fact, the way my father wanted the money to be tied up was very tax inefficient.


However, on the death of my father, and advice from a wonderful solicitor, the two wills were changed, and we spent the next three years caring for our mother and eventually, as one would expect, we inherited our legacy, which was the usual modest amount you’d expect two people to leave their children plus some shares that my mother had inherited from her parents.


We were so lucky to have this solicitor who believed that if the recipients of legacies wanted to save the money left to them, fine, and if they wanted to spend it all, that was also fine, as it was their decision, totally. He believed whole-heartedly that no-one should attempt to influence or control people, especially their children, from the grave.


This was so important as little did anyone realise, least of all my father, that three years after our mother’s death my sister would die. But thanks to this good solicitor, my sister had three wonderful years spending the money left to her. You see, up to the legacy she received, she was really poor, as in really, really poor. So, she bought her house from the local council, paid off her debts and redid her kitchen. And joy of joys she went to America on Concorde to visit her best friend, every year! She had a wonderful time. And then she died. From cancer. I mean, I was devastated when that happened, but I knew she’d been very happy during the years after my parent’s deaths, as for the first time for a long time, she didn’t have to deal with her grinding poverty.


Well, there you are, a cautionary tale of a controlling father. It’s a long story as to why he was like that, and, readers, he wasn’t a monster, not at all, but, he did things in his own particular way and, you know, ….families. And if I learnt anything, it is I do not want to leave any legacy that makes demands on anyone.


Now taking that a step further, and this, I think, you can call my legacy, it is my greatest wish is to make the least fuss and bother for my children as I get really, really old. In fact, I am going to say this, I think it is selfish of older people if they don’t make decisions about their older age leaving it all to their children, who usually are still working and have many responsibilities.


Sigh. I speak from bitter experience here.


My mother, it wasn’t her fault, but she was not an independent woman. Once my father had died, she had no idea, for instance, how to pay bills, or how to get out of the house without someone taking her, let alone shop for food. Astonishing really, as she was the same age as I am now. She could do the housework, though and cook, but get out of the house on her own, no. From a distance (she lived in Suffolk, I lived in Sussex, and it was a 3-hour drive or catching three connecting trains) I set up a carer; supposedly a cleaner, but she came in every day and checked on my mother, did her shopping, and took her out for the occasional outing.  She was a treasure. And for 18 months me and my family came up to Suffolk every other weekend, eventually leaving my two young teenagers to fend for themselves at home. I look back now and feel such awful guilt as I know I neglected my teenagers with all our absences over the weekends.


Anyway, it worked for a while and then she fell down the stairs. And the neighbour who had spent several hours in A&E with my mother, said to me, in quite the accusatory tone, ‘and what are you going to do with your mother?’ As if I hadn’t had sleepless nights over this!  Well, that was the end of her living in her beloved house. We brought her to live nearer to us in a flat in an apartment block for the over-60s, which had extra help (not like the place I live in). It also had a restaurant and loads of stuff going on. And did she thrive there and become part of the community? No, she hated it, as she had expected that I would see her every day.  Furthermore, she hated that she wasn’t in her house with all her possessions and furniture around her, and she became depressed, severely depressed.


She managed to live another two years and then departed this life never adapting to living without her husband beside her. And all the while, I have to say this, expecting her daughters (I had a sister who helped but I was the decision-maker) to rally round and do everything for her. But people, all the while I was doing this I was commuting from Brighton to London, working full-time on a prestigious national project, with a husband and two teenagers, and continually having to make decisions about her care, selling her house, packing up her possessions and selling most of her furniture, visiting her every other weekend and then every weekend once she was nearer to us, and all the while meeting her resentment that I wasn’t constantly by her side.  It made me ill and it took me years to get over this.


So now you know, as in really know, why I moved to a ‘retirement property’ as they are known here in the UK, at what is considered quite a young age of 72. Why? Because, I would never EVER do what my mother did to my children. And so it was that we moved and down-sized – early. I mean most of our friends were beside themselves, ‘why Penny, why do this?’ Well, it was difficult to tell them the bone-deep feeling of I will not ever make any demands on my children as I get older.  Also, I had noticed that the people who liked living where my mother did, had lived there a long time. It wasn’t a last minute ‘do or die’ decision for them. Like us, they had said to themselves, where could we live that is conducive to getting older, so like us they had down-sized and enjoyed where they were living for many years.


If I sound as though I’m shouting, or being negative about older age I do apologise, and remember I am being realistic here about older, older age, rather than the active retirement type of age that people are usually experiencing in their 70s and into their 80s.


Actually, someone has written about this choosing to get rid of possessions and down-sizing in a really delightful way. This is Margaret Magnusson who has written two books: Dostadning: The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, which is all about reducing one’s possessions. I’m currently reading her latest book: The Swedish Art of Ageing Well, subtitled, Life wisdom from someone who will (probably) die before you, which I’m finding equally delightful. It is so good to read a book about ageing by someone who is old – there are too many books about ‘ageing well’ written by people who have absolutely no idea what ageing is actually like! I highly recommend both books. And btw, I found the whole process of down-sizing cathartic and actually quite fun.


And now I think I need to get out and away from my desk after that as, wow, Gail, this writing challenge is very thought provoking!  But this is what the term legacy means to me. Not leaving the world a better place – if only. Or, for that matter, nor do I have any thoughts about what I have contributed and left for others after I have died, it’s a no to that, because legacy to me is wanting to disappear with the least fuss possible. Let’s see if I can do it!


And now it is time to introduce you to the other members of this Tell Us About It challenge.


Here is the lovely Lesley, who chose the theme, who blogs at Once Upon A Time Happily Ever After. She says one of the most touching things she was told after her Mom died in 08.2022 was that her brother, sister and I were her legacy. My (former) sister-in-law Metra was the sweetheart who imparted those words to her. And they were a comfort. She felt like Mom had gifted them with so much in her 95 years and now it was up to them to carry on for her. A big Job!  Click here for her post.


Then there’s Marsha who blogs at Marsha in the Middle. She is sharing the legacy of a truly extraordinary man. His legacy is in the thousands of children and adults who were fortunate enough to have known him. Click here to read this post.


Deb at Deb’s World embraces the quirkiness of life in her response to the question of her legacy, thanks to some helpful technologies. Click on this link to read her post.


Gail at Is This Mutton says, Kathleen Lovis was an ordinary woman who never owned a house or car. She didn’t go abroad until she was 81. Kathleen started working at 14. She was the grandmother of Gail who treasures Kathleen’s legacy of a handwritten memoir and recipe book. Click here for her post.


Sue at Women Living Well After 50, ponders the question ‘What will my legacy be?’ Legacy is one of those subjects she has never really taken time to confront. As she delved to find the answer, she discovered she really does know who she is and embraces and celebrates her unique qualities. Click here for this post.


Suzy at The Grey Brunette explores her aspirations to leave a lasting legacy of creativity, inspiration and empowerment, emphasising the importance of igniting creativity within oneself and others. Click here for her post.


Well, there you are, I probably have overshared and I also  hope this post isn’t too negative a take on life for you, but I am a realist, and this is the way I think, However, you will find it interesting to read the different views my lovely fellow contributors have on this theme. Thank you for reading to the end, that really is all for now.


With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper

Tell Us About – Legacy

36 thoughts on “Tell Us About – Legacy

  • 1st October 2023 at 5:37 pm

    My legacy is a thick head of hair from my maternal grandfather my quirky sense of humour from my paternal grandmother and my left wing, liberal philosophies a legacy in reverse from my extremely illiberal father. A thought provoking subject for discussion.

    • 2nd October 2023 at 8:06 am

      Ha, ha, oh yes, I aimed to be completely different to my parents, increasingly I find I am rather like them!!!! But I am exceedingly left wing and it is a direct result of the opposing view of life held by my parents! Oh, and thank you mum, for my thick head of hair, which I inherited from her and I often say – thank you mother!!!

      Gosh yes, the subject took me down a rabbit hole of memories! Thanks Flora 🙂

      • 3rd October 2023 at 6:56 am

        Your story rang true to me. I suffered a similar scenario. A mother who disliked my husband and changed her will to exclude me. A woman who expected me to be available at all times and who was hard to please. Never content. My brother who was hardly ever around was greatly favoured. It caused a rift between my brother and myself. I haven’t spoken to him despite trying to communicate. He doesn’t want to know. It’s been 13 years since my mother passed away. If it hadn’t been for an aunt who pointed out the things I had done for her, I would have had no inheritance at all.

        • 4th October 2023 at 7:59 am

          Hello – aren’t families difficult at times. It is so challenging when parents become demanding.

          I rather wonder if it was a generational thing. My mother never worked, it just wasn’t the done thing for her and her particular class, and she never understood why I worked, I mean partly I had to, but mostly I wanted to, it was the norm for me and my cohort. So if you have never worked you have no idea how sometimes work must come first even before family. So she felt why isn’t my daughter by my side, but it was impossible. Yes, it was definitely a misunderstanding on her part.

          So very difficult. I do understand how you feel. Actually I understand my parents far more now than I did when they were alive. I think if you’ve had a challenging time with them there is certain kind of fascination to understand why, well anyway, that’s how I dealt with it. Wishing you the very best and thanks for the comment Liz 🙂

  • 1st October 2023 at 7:43 pm

    Penny thank you for sharing your thoughts on Legacy and how this has influenced your life now . I have taken note of those books as sound interesting reading . Legacy to me is what my ancestors have gifted me and when I die , what gifts/ influences I have imparted on my children. I did not find your post negative , its your experience of how life was and will stimulate discussion. Luckily my children are grown up and independent so time given to the care of my 93 year old mum does not impact on them greatly.

    • 2nd October 2023 at 8:23 am

      The books are brilliant and so easy to read. She tells you how she sees down-sizing and ageing and really it’s delightful to get her words of wisdom which are so embedded in reality. They are lovely books.

      Yes, it was just very bad timing and I was so torn between the two generations – it was like being in giant sticky sandwich!!!!

      The irony was that throughout this time I was working in a national carers project and the institution I was working in had no caring leave! I had used up all my leave days sorting out things at my mother’s in Suffolk and then when it went pear shaped when I had to move her down to Hove. How was I to do it when work wouldn’t allow me any more leave? But wonder of wonders I had a lovely GP who took one look at me and gave me a 3-week sick leave certificate. I did the move and returned to work part-time. But it was altogether a ghastly experience and I was so exhausted that when my contract ended I didn’t work for 6 months – I needed that just to recover.

      This is what the theme of legacy has brought out from me – some really dark memories!!! But it was a defining key time of my life which has influenced me for ever after.

      I am so glad you are able to give your time to your mother – it must be lovely to have the time to do that. It’s good to hear that others have good experiences looking after a parent.

  • 1st October 2023 at 9:38 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts on legacy. They were very thought-provoking and I generally agree with your stance. I’m sorry you had such a lot of angst while your children were teenagers. It must have been so difficult for all of you. I’ve had similar ( but different) experiences in my life which have led me to the same stance you take; the legacy of making my old age, the least painful possible for my children. Their lives are complicated enough. I do find it silly when people pretend they will forever be able to manage the lives they lead in their 60,s and 70’s while doing nothing to prepare for extreme old age. Old age must be managed, and if you are sensible, you will put in place the things to help you manage it sooner rather than later. All the best ( and keep on keeping on)- Trish S

    • 2nd October 2023 at 9:24 am

      Oh gosh Trish, we think along the same lines. I agree older age must be managed and it is not good to stick one’s head in the sand and be surprised when it turns up!!

      It was traumatic dealing with a big job, the mid-teens teenagers and a demanding parent. I always felt I could not do anything well for any of those three priorities. But anyway that is the past and we learn and btw the children seem to have survived – they are really good people and have lovely families, so that is so nice for me to see.

      Thanks Trish 🙂

  • 2nd October 2023 at 1:34 am

    Loved reading this, my husband has been wanting to downsize for the last four years, we are both 72yrs old, live in a bungalow but with an upstairs and a large garden, I love the garden and to sew .so need a space for that, our son moved back with us three years ago, so feel no way can we downside, I can see the benefits of moving but feel trapped.

    • 8th October 2023 at 8:26 am

      It is so challenging sometimes. Actually a lot of people do not down-size and what you can do instead is future-proof your abode so for example, you can live totally downstairs. Yes, bunglalows often have the large garden. Until my mother moved they grassed over a lot of their flower and vegetable beds, which is one way to cope with a larger garden.

      Do hope things sort themselves out – thanks so much, Doris, for your comment 🙂

  • 2nd October 2023 at 2:27 am

    Penny, you know how sometimes you read something at just the right time? This is one of those times for me. I’ve been all “woe is me” about downsizing for the last year. I’ve got stuff in places I don’t even know it’s there. What does that mean? I have too much stuff! I have done the Swedish death cleaning for quite a lot of stuff because I don’t want my kids to have to deal with that. I will continue to do it, but there are some things I’m just not ready to say good-bye.

    I don’t think your post is particularly negative. I found it more matter of fact. I’m so glad you and your sister were able to find a solicitor who could help you with your father’s will. We had to do something similar with my maternal grandmother’s will. More importantly, how wonderful your sister was able to truly enjoy her last years of life. I can’t imagine flying the Concorde!

    I also truly like your take on the idea of leaving a legacy. I know I have students who will remember me fondly when my name comes up. I don’t, however, think I have changed any of their lives one way or the other, and that’s fine, too.

    I really enjoy this writing challenge because it is definitely a challenge and often quite thought provoking!


    • 2nd October 2023 at 9:58 am

      This writing challenge is so challenging!!! But actually I like the way it makes you think – it was such a good idea to get us together to do this because we all think and react differently. It’s really good to see how it pans out with everyone.

      You will know when it is right to move on from some of your more precious possessions – but it sounds as though you have begun the process. Our small abode just wouldn’t take too many possessions and as for the furniture, I love my bright white minimalist rooms with colourful throws and cushions and the two chairs, one yellow and one blue. It became fun to furnish it with a modern clean (Ikea type) look. I think it really helps if you see downsizing as exciting and new rather than a duty. But we all evolve differently so no worries – it will happen.

      Thanks Marsha 🙂

  • 2nd October 2023 at 7:32 am

    Wow, quite a story. I can relate a bit with the father story. I can totally understand why you made your choice. And I’m sure your children are grateful.

    • 2nd October 2023 at 9:51 am

      Thanks Nancy – the theme brought out a lot of memories! Have a great week 🙂

  • 2nd October 2023 at 8:29 am

    Thanks Penny for this honest and intimate post about your family. Very thought provoking and I will certainly follow up some of the readings and books. As a former professional declutterer the death cleaning makes total sense. My mother’s legacy was bitterness, disappointment and anger and when she died I found myself the only survivor of my birth family. Both of my brothers had died prematurely and my father died from a brain tumour at 48 years. My legacy to my son will be a bit of money but hopefully a sense to live life as fully as health will allow with an understanding of the importance of connection with people, myself and places. I have just decided to walk the Camina del Santiago next April. Solo ( you are never alone on this walk though!) ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’ comes to mind!

    I’m doing it for me though- not for anyone else- and will have no idea until the end what I was doing it for!
    I hope that bitterness and anger can stop with my mother and not live down into the next generations.
    My son asked me a few years ago to fill in a sort of granny book about my family but I am not going to do that. I am planning to write about my life- the warts and all- the themes- and hope that by doing this I will leave them a sense of who I really was, who our family was and not just a few facts. You have generously provided lots of links to interesting women which I will follow. The perfect post to read for me at the moment…and it was not negative.. in fact quite uplifting! Thank you. Sorry we didn’t get to see you in Dungeness recently- discovered lots to do in Rye.

    • 3rd October 2023 at 7:56 am

      You will love those books as they are gentle and beautifully written. It is great it is to read about down-sizing from the perspective of an older person, rather than someone, like the lovely Marie Kondo, who is i) so young and ii) is only talking about tidying up.

      Both my other half, Bill, (otherwise known as Mr F)and myself are the only survivors of our families as we both have no siblings and no parents of course. I am often surprised when people my age start talking about socialising with their sister or brother, as that ceased so many years ago. I agree that bitterness and the depression can be left behind and stop with the death of one generation as I know that my children are happy and have lovely families. The experience left me scarred but I had a good amount of resilience and I did recover albeit with that bone deep feeling of never will I be a burden…. do hope I manage that!!! Mind you, one day I must tell you, there’s quite a story behind my mother’s chronic depression. I always thought it was intrinsic, but there was a reason and it’s, well, quite a story.

      Oh yes, do write that memoir, it will be so interesting for your son. I keep trying to write a memoir and have actually started it so many times, but it always peters out. They’ll just have to read the Memories page of this blog for any insights into my past!

      I really must try and find the good parts of Rye as 2 years ago we went to Rye and it was stuffed with tourists and very hot and we didn’t find the vintage shops and all the lovely parts of it. instead we are exploring Old Hastings and next time I go to Dungeness I aim to go to another part of Old Hastings to explore the vintage clothes areas. This time I spent most of my time in the hat shop!!!

      So admiring you for aiming to do that walk. Thanks Steph 🙂

  • 2nd October 2023 at 8:48 am

    An insightful post Penny that resonates with me. I now have a name for my ongoing decluttering – Swedish death cleaning. It’s so therapeutic and now I’ve discovered vinted, lucrative too. Finding a smaller property seems to be the challenge, and I’ve enviously followed your home moves. If my husband died there is no way I would stay in our current house unlike my mother in law who inherited a legacy from the grave.We are developing more health problems and worry over it all which is not helpful to our children and young grandchildren.
    Thank you for sharing a very personal post on a sensitive issue that really should be much more openly considered. Currently planning my play list of stories and music for when I am unable to do things.

    • 3rd October 2023 at 8:14 am

      Yes, it’s apparently a very Swedish thing, the books are delightful and so beautifully written. It’s good to hear how an older person goes about de-cluttering.

      Ah Vinted, I was just about to start using it, but got my account into one awful muddle. I was fine using the app, then tried to enter my account via the laptop, bad choice as it didn’t recognise my password and I got deeper and deeper into one heck of muddle. The Help desk appears to be nothing but bots and I am not getting much help apart from stock answers. Think the app is back to normal now so am aiming to get started with selling clothes this coming weekend.

      Living in a smaller place is great but like everything there are pros and cons. I know it is a very challenging to down-size and I know most of my friends won’t as it is a very personal choice. The thing to do if you don’t down-size is to declutter and future-proof it so you can live easily where you are.

      Love the idea of the play-list of stories and music. Thanks Lindsey 🙂

  • 2nd October 2023 at 12:43 pm

    Very interesting,thanks Penny. I’ve not had time to read those books or even follow your links as my husband is in hospital after a fall but I’m writing to encourage people to set up Powers of Attorney for health and finance as well as making wills- we were about to see our solicitor to make Powers of Attorney (though you can do it much cheaper online!) the very week my husband had his fall and it’s proving difficult now sorting “capacity” for signatures etc

    • 3rd October 2023 at 8:06 am

      Oh Hilary, do hope your husband recovers quickly – it must be so worrying. While you were about to do your Powers of Attorney, it often takes a bout of illness to get that done. We did ours when my heart went doolally in early 2020 and we updated the wills too.

      Thank you for reminding us that Powers of Attorney done when you’re well is absolutely the time to do it, and not when you’re ill!

      I’m sending you my very best wishes to both of you. You take care too and thanks again for your message 🙂

  • 2nd October 2023 at 1:27 pm

    This post really hit home! My daughter and I were just having a conversation about what to do with all my things come the inevitable. What she said is that although my home does not look cluttered I have so much stuff. And she is right. inside drawers and closets thee are the reminders of my kids childhoods, and my childhood as well, stuffed animals now battered and worn, collections started and then abandoned when I decided to collect cow creamers, antique rolling pins, Hummel plates for goodness sake! what a cliche! and if it was a gift I feel I ought to keep in respect, especially long departed loved ones. but do I really need to keep my late aunt’s ceramic cat. My parents were kind of the same way, so I guess I come by my “collecting” honestly. It is starting to feel like a burden and getting rid of it after my death will be a burden for my kids. that talk yesterday and reading your words has got me going. part of the problem is that so much of what I have has little intrinsic worth. I hate the idea of adding more to a landfill. I am already thinking of small ways I could start. a small file box which has old and useless records, records of deceased pets that I keep for sentimental reasons. just writing this is a bit scary. I have a few sets of plates, thinking that I will host large family gatherings, but really this is unlikely. I have to find these books you cited, hoping they will help after I manage to do the easy part.
    a friend yesterday told a story of a man why passed away. when his family found him in his bed they discovered the home had been cleaned out, his important papers were beside him along with his final wishes. this is a high bar to aim, for, and maybe not realistic but as you can see it got me thinking. Thanks again Penny for your honesty. Love, Darby

    • 4th October 2023 at 8:13 am

      The books are lovely and written by someone who is nearly 90 now. It’s very good reading the views of someone who is actually old, so many of these books are written by younger people, who are full of good intentions for you to do this and to do that, but who know nothing about the reality of ageing.

      Yes, stuff. While we have definitely downsized our furniture and the size of our abode we still have ‘stuff’. A set of shelves has a lot of box files with some of my ‘stuff’, for instance, one bulging box has all my theatre programmes ranging from the early 60s to the 80s. These days I don’t go to the theatre anymore (too expensive for starters) so there are no further programmes but I’ve researched them and they are not worth a penny! So what to do? They may be of fleeting interest, but I guess they could be chucked. And then I’ve kept all the congratulations cards for each of my kid’s birth – that’s another box file. And so it goes, but at least they are all sorted into these box files and put in the same place on this one set of shelves.

      That old man, that’s a very high bar, but I think we could both do a little bit more sorting and sifting through our possessions. We being, Mr F and myself. Good luck in your sort out – it is challenging but necessary, I think. Wishing you the very best in this Darby, you take care and love from Lewes 🙂

  • 2nd October 2023 at 2:00 pm

    Penny – I’m so glad you decided to write on this topic (I bailed out on it, but also had time conflicts) and to be so very honest! We have no children, and are counting on good relationships with nieces and nephews to direct (but not provide) our care when we can no longer do so. We’ve already purchased a house in town for us to move to when we no longer want the country life, and are planning on downsizing long before that move. My MIL is 91, lives on her own 10 minutes away, and has a wonderful attitude, but advancing memory loss, and will need move into assisted living in the next year (and really should have already). I agree with you that the happiest people in group living seem to have done it earlier rather than later, when they can make more of their own decisions and have more faculties to make friendships. Thanks for writing on this important topic, and I will check out those books.

    • 4th October 2023 at 8:21 am

      The books are lovely Mary and very well written by someone who is in their very late 80s, it’s so good to read this type of book written by an older person as too many are written by people with good intentions, but they have no idea at all about what ageing is really like.

      Yes, the theme, legacy, took me back to that time when I was caring for my mother – phew they were challenging times, but the lesson learnt will help my children and for that I’m grateful. And absolutely if you’re going to move to a retirement property (this isn’t assisted living, btw) it is good to do it earlier before it becomes a necessity which you struggle with. we love it here.

      Thanks so much MaryK for your comment 🙂

  • 2nd October 2023 at 4:39 pm

    I think you are spot on Penny in doing what you did based on your own experiences. I am considering tackling my loft in an effort to start reducing what I have and what my children might have to deal with in the future – if I don’t! I, too would consider a retirement complex at some point in the future especially if the stairs become too much of a challenge for me. Well done, you!

    • 4th October 2023 at 8:26 am

      Hi Veronica, Ah yes, I remember the loft! Also one time we had garage, did we put the cars in it? No! It was stuffed full of ‘stuff’!

      You need to choose the retirement complex well, preferably one that isn’t like a block of flats, there are plenty with bungalows and flats that look like a normal houses, which is where we live now. I found the blocks of flats type retirement complex rather too crowded, but it’s not like that here where I live now. I also have some outside space which is such a bonus.

      Thanks Veronica 🙂

      • 4th October 2023 at 8:41 am

        The trouble is that what is currently being built is only retirement flats. What I particularly dislike about them is that they have one open plan room so your kitchen is part of your living area. Not for me!

        • 4th October 2023 at 8:50 am

          I would agree with you Lynda having tried two of those typical blocks with open plan kitchen/living space, although the last one had a much bigger kitchen and was very adequate for my cooking which I do a lot of. But still the living room would often smell of onions or sausages! Now I have a separate kitchen where I shut the door and listen to my podcasts and cook – it’s absolute bliss. The complex itself is a Close with what looks like houses. These are in fact divided into two flats, one upstairs and one downstairs, and so much larger than the two previous flats we lived in. It is so preferable to the typical retirement ‘block’. We had to experience them to realise they were not for us, although I have to say, if Covid hadn’t happened I might still be living in the last one, it was being shut in for lockdowns that made me want to move. This complex in Lewes was such a find.

          I do believe, Lynda, that there are much higher end, very expensive retirement complexes that do have bungalows and flats like ours. Fortunately this wasn’t expensive – three cheers for that!

  • 2nd October 2023 at 11:38 pm

    I rarely comment but always enjoy your posts. The last few posts however have really struck a cord with me. I am with you all the way with your thoughts/ideas. Thank you for being real.

    • 4th October 2023 at 8:29 am

      Thank you so much Chris, that’s so kind of you to say that, because I do think it is important to not pretend that life is wonderful, especially as you age, because it’s quite the challenge! And yes, the theme, legacy, took me to some deep, and tbh quite dark memories!

      Thanks again 🙂

  • 3rd October 2023 at 7:52 am

    Morning Penny

    Another interesting post, thank you. Thirty five years ago Derek and I had a brilliant idea: start collecting (collating?) our ‘interesting lives’ (!) for the benefit of our daughter and future grandchildren. We filled pocket files (five or six each year) with theatre programmes, menus from ‘nice’ restaurants we ate at, photos, momentoes from holidays and visits etc. etc. When we started we anticipated a couple of files for each year. However, in our enthusiasm, we ended up with five or six stuffed files a year. But, hey-ho, we lived such interesting lives… 😉

    Seven years in, my mother died and ten weeks later my mother-in-law died. It fell to us to clear their homes. Apart from a few items (MiL’s bread board, an armchair belonging to my grandmother’s, my Dad’s watch) all their ‘precious stuff’ (except a box of photographs) had to go -to friends, charity shops etc. It was distressing but we simply didn’t want it. The experience impacted us greatly: a couple of weeks later we tossed all those files recording our ‘interesting lives’. When we told our daughter what we’d done she smiled and said, “Phew!” She’d obviously been anticipating the future.

    The box of photographs stayed in our loft until five years ago. I decided to use them to research my family back to 1802 and write a book on the history of the Young family. I got a dozen books printed and sent them to cousins in UK, Canada and New Zealand and one each for my daughter and grandson.

    I decided to resrach my mother’s side of the family and discovered I was not an only child. I had a sister seven years older than me who was adopted a few weeks after birth. It was a deep shock but helped me understand my mother a little more. I put out searches for the ‘baby’ including on the national register, but have heard nothing. I don’t have any desire to put work into a deep search and do not feel she is part of my legacy.

    All the best, Mary
    PS letter coming! x

    • 4th October 2023 at 9:15 am

      You were very organised to begin with, but actually 5-6 pocket files each year would soon mount up! We’ve had to clear my mother’s house, Bill’s aunt’s and my uncle’s house. Each one had so much in it, and all while we were working with other responsibilities.

      But taking things into consideration although we have down-sized and there are no heirloom pieces of furniture that our kids might feel pressure to keep (all Ikea now) we still have quite a lot of ‘stuff’ in box files. And Bill is the repository of so many photographs and negatives. He took on my parent’s photos and his parents’, and his aunt’s and so on, and what with ours, as he has taken so many photographs over the years – well the collection is huge. He believes that everything should digitalised but I have persuaded him to tell the ‘story’. And that is what he is doing now.

      Ah yes, how very, very interesting re: your discovery. I have a tale to tell. I cannot prove it wholeheartedly, but I think my mother had a child before she was married to my father. I cannot find a birth certificate and I have tried, but there are other very strong clues. It all makes for an amazing story which one day I will have to write down, but alas, like the memoir I start the story and it always, always dissatisfies me. This though does explain so much about both my mother and father and the dynamic in the family. Aren’t families fascinating! Mind you Bill says, he had such an ordinary happy upbringing that he hasn’t got anything shocking or interesting to tell!! I think he doesn’t realise that there is always something interesting to tell.

      Thanks Mary 🙂

  • 3rd October 2023 at 10:22 am

    Thank you for this post Penny which adds context to your decision to ‘right size’ when you did. Two years ago when we were 69 and 70 we agreed that we would look for an apartment closer to the city centre and crucially with a better bus service. Ours is down to 3 buses 2 days a week unless you take an uphill walk of close about .75 of a mile which is something we can easily do now but perhaps not later on. HI set about selling things he no longer wanted/needed but I sensed that he was not really on board with the idea after reluctantly looking at a couple of possibilities with which he always found problems. It transpired that he had no idea what he would do without the garden and outside work – he is not a ‘joiner’ like so many men. It was now autumn so we agreed to think about it again in the spring. At the same time I noticed a very small ‘mole’ on my face. This turned out to be melanoma which despite surgery, radiotherapy and immunotherapy continues to advance, although it doesn’t affect me too much at the moment as I’m on a drug that’s working to slow it down.
    So here we are 2 years later but at least we have a bungalow anyway and are both pretty good at keeping the clutter down. I could not contemplate the stress and waste of precious time in moving now but our home seems a bit tired and shabby now and I was looking forward to creating a new one. HI has his own health problems too. I say all this to bust the myth that we can all expect to live well into our 80’s and there is no hurry to make changes. I went into the home of a lovely neighbour whose husband has had dementia for 8 years and I have never seen so much stuff outside a museum or shop. She wanted to move but her husband wouldn’t and now they are stuck in a five bedroomed house and she is exhausted with it all; they are in their late 80’s.
    I’m conscious that I will be leaving a lot of personal stuff for others to sort out unless I have the courage and energy to do it when I know my illness is terminal. At the moment I’m doing pretty much exactly what I did before the diagnosis, living form day to day week to week etc. & that’s how I cope. I still buy things and try to give as much away ; today I’m sorting my shoes for autumn and probably ditching a few pairs.
    As to legacy I’ve recorded an account of my life with the help of an interviewer and I have it on a memory stick for each of my children. I’ve not listened to it myself, can’t bring myself to. This was done in April when things were looking pretty dire ( HI panicked me a bit really) and my voice was much more croaky than it is now so I think I did it a bit too soon but better that than never. I don’t suppose it covers everything or answers all the questions my children might have in the years to come but I hope it helps a bit. I intend to write some letters too and at Christmas I gave each of my 16 year old granddaughters a classic book that I’ve enjoyed with a handwritten note about the value of reading. What savings I have when I die will be divided between the 5 grand children, not left to the children who, luckily, don’t need it.

  • 4th October 2023 at 9:30 am

    Yes, sometimes it’s not possible to move, I think that when this is the situation, one could ‘future-proof’ the current home so that you can live in it into older age. For those living in a house, could they live downstairs when they get more immobile, or is there room for a stair-lift. Is there a downstairs loo and so on. Thankfully you live in a bungalow so there won’t be the challenge of the stairs.

    We haven’t got any heavy heirloom furniture as we’re all Ikea now, but we still, I think, have a lot of stuff. And there’s other things to sort out, as funnily enough having written about my mother not knowing how to pay bills, I thought, hang on a minute, I think the utility bills have somehow only got my other half’s name on them. We are changing that. Also why has he taken over the car stuff, insurance, MOT etc. I need to know more about these every day things and have told him, we need to do things together equally. Interesting as before I wrote about ‘legacy’ I hadn’t properly thought through some of these basic every day things that you need to know about, if…

    And gosh yes, I totally get that we don’t all live into our 80s. One set of friends just recently told me that only one of their friends had died. Both me and my other half have had 7 friends between us who have died. So very very sad, and all but one younger than me.

    That way of recording your life, sounds a good one. And also good that you are thinking of these nice little touches for your granddaughters of a classic book. May that medication work for a very long time, Lynda.

    As ever thanks so much 🙂

  • 5th October 2023 at 3:41 am

    I’ve finally managed to read your post Penny and what an eye opener it was! Thanks for being so open and honest and I didn’t find your post negative at all. It covered some negative issues and people but your telling of it was real. I really enjoyed your thoughts on the challenge and the prompt, they really do get us thinking don’t they? I’m glad you shred your post, so many thanks for telling us how it is for you, and I admire your thoughtfulness in being prepared and not burdening your children. Well done!

  • 5th October 2023 at 11:12 am

    I loved your thoughtful take on Legacy. It’s not something that automatically suggests joy or inheritance. I’m so glad your father’s will was handled so well, and your sister got to enjoy her last few years. My mum, 91, is in the same camp as you on trying to make everything easy for us when she dies. She had her attic cleared a few years ago and has hardly any material goods now. She has arranged an instant cremation so that we don’t have to travel for her funeral. I was upset about this but have to accept her decision.

Comments are closed.