The Things We Leave Behind

One of the most profound things I ever heard was when my sister found out she had Alzheimer’s and had little time left before she would drift away. She asked me “What will happen to the things I leave behind?”

She knew that she would never be able to purge all of her things before she would leave us behind. My sister loved to collect things. Bless her heart she tried. Night after night she went through her things putting them into boxes with notes as to where they should go.

Unfortunately, my sister never finished her task. Her husband had to finish finding a place for the things she left behind. What do we leave behind? A lifetime of stories, things that we cherish and the memories we make.

In the end, I found out many things about my sister. In truth, she left me new memories. I learned that she had more to teach me, more to give me. I guess the things we leave behind go to a new place, to new people. Some things become cherished memories others end up in black trash bags.

Sometimes I wonder when she asked me what will happen to the things I’ll leave behind that maybe she was curious as to what would happen to me, her husband, her sister, and her children.

I think we all have made our way and each of us carries within us the things she left behind. I know she gave me her love and kindness, her tears and laughter. She taught me to be strong and to be fearless. She always told me that my dreams were real places that you can go to if only you believe.

I hope that in the end, she knew what to do with the things she left behind.


The things of value we create in life are the things we give. It is how we live our life and what we did for others that live on within the people we touch is the value of what we leave behind.


Larry Tyler
Larry Tyler
I have 40 years of Retail Management experience. I am the person they send in to fix things. Call it a Store Focus Specialist, a Smoke Jumper, an Outlaw. I can work within the system or go outside the box when needed. I love walking into chaos and bringing order. I am not a key word person and my education came from mentors not schools. I believe that everything that we do starts with hiring the right people. Driving sales, merchandising, customer service and metrics are just keywords until you hire the right people. My top talents are Recruiting, hiring, training, associate development, and going into a focus store and turning it around. Most importantly I believe in people and that if you teach them, develop them and believe in them they will do far more than they thought possible.


  1. Heartfelt story, Larry. Many of us can relate, but you told it so beautifully. It is true that what we do in life, how we treat others, what we do for others and what we teach others is our legacy……sounds like your sister’s was a wonderful one. Thanks for sharing this lovely, but rather sad story.

  2. This story really puts our living lives into perspective. It is our relationships with others that lives in their hearts when we are gone. Each of us grows in life through those we have shared even just a segment of time, that is each of our legacies, and at times, we don’t even know how we have impacted another, forever remembered.

  3. Life is all about understanding its purpose and leaving behind a legacy that others would cherish. I see in your loss, Dear Larry, a renewed urge to keep the flame of hopefulness burning ever brighter. I can feel the emotions your sister conveyed to you all so the purpose of all your lives is met in full glory, as Our Dear Lord designed for humanity.

    My humble prayer to Good Lord is to Grant the Departed Soul Eternal Peace in His Heavenly Abode, Amen!

  4. Thank you so much Jane for your kind words. We have a family tradition when someone passes away the family meets at an Italian restaurant and celebrate that person’s life. I agree that she was more concerned about what would happen to us. However she gave us many great memories and the tools to live a great lives

    • That’s a wonderful tradition. I’ve already told my family that if I ever am diagnosed with a terminal illness, while I can still enjoy it, I am having a celebration of life and it will be a blowout event. Of course, we’ll see how this plays out in God’s plan, but that’s mine.

      • That sounds good to me. We found by doing this tradition we truly celebrated her life and it was interesting to see how everyone was engaged with her differently through their life.she affected many of us in many different ways

  5. Larry, this is truly beautiful. I hope your sister was able to have a party to celebrate her life before she passed away. I wonder, too, if your sister wasn’t so concerned about where her possessions would end up, but where your lives would lead you and the memories you would create when she was no longer here to be part of the story.