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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Legacy

My grandpa was very active in his community.
 He did a lot to shape his kids (and grandkids)
leaving a huge legacy as a result
Waayyy way back when I started thinking about donating my kidney and told a few people, one of my close friends either asked or suggested (I can't recall which) that perhaps my desire to do this stemmed from the fact I was pretty sure I wasn't going to have kids. This was perhaps my way of subconsciously leaving a piece of me behind or creating some kind of legacy. Another friend thought this was just another thing sidetracking me when I ought to be having kids-basically I needed to focus and just have kids like everyone else. It's what I am supposed to be doing right? Even my mother assumed I was calling to tell her I was pregnant when I was really calling to tell her about what I was considering re the "kidney thing".

Yesterday we went to the Southland Leisure Centre with Charlie and Charlie Jr. We had him for a day before he was jetting off to be with Grandma in BC so I wanted to do something fun with him. That and I am feeling much more bathing suit ready having lost about 2 sizes since the surgery (/cheer). There is nothing like a community pool facility to remind you that you don't have kids. There are children of all ages everywhere and parents keeping a watchful eye. Dad's are teaching daughters to swim as mom looks on, toddler in arms. AT one point I found myself in the middle of close to a hundred people and it felt like I was the only adult there without an offspring.

Sure, I have a role in Charlie Jr.'s life which is important. But he isn't mine. I'm almost like a close Aunt to him but I know he doesn't see me as a parental figure. I may influence him but I don't think I will ever be a hugely shaping force in his life. AS I looked around the pool I thought of a group Facebook posting I had read earlier in the day where a kidney recipient had just had his third child and they had partially named the child after his donor, Alison. There is some legacy there for sure. And it made me wonder-was there a small part of me that did this to create legacy?

I'm 35 years old. I've always been on the fence about wanting kids. Part of me has in the past but its never been a burning desire-and I kind of think it should be if you are going to do it. Charlie has Charlie Jr and doesn't want anymore offspring so there has never been pressure from him for me to get off the fence. There is something about deciding not to have kids that makes you realize how short and final our lives can be. As a mid thirties woman you are also reminded at every turn that your time is running out-act now or you'll be sorry. Whenever I've asked friends why they wanted kids, aside for the "joy of raising them", this whole notion of legacy is more often than not offered up. Sitting in the wave pool, surrounded by kids clinging to their fathers, swimming through the wave pool, I wondered-was the chance at some kind of legacy part of why I did this?

Maybe it was? Maybe this kidney donation was a shot at a small piece of me going on to create or enrich a life-make an impact on a small part of the world that I wouldn't have otherwise. Maybe it wouldn't be the recipient but he or she would create a chain reaction of paying it forward that would amount to something that in return could be traced back to the initial donation. I am not really sure. In a way I hoped it wasn't part of my subconscious decision making because it makes it seem like I was being selfish and egotistical.

With some reflection I decided that it likely wasn't part of why I did this-after all, many people with kids (and therefore legacy) donate kidneys all the time. No one ever asks them if this is a well intentioned diversion from having children. It is an interesting way of rationalizing what must seem like a very strange decision for me to make though and certainly did provide some food for thought as to what legacy really means. I still haven't quite figured it out yet.

2 comments:

  1. Lauren, you're the first person I've ever heard of that voluntarily donated a kidney. Whether your intentions were for having some way to leave a legacy or otherwise, I'm not sure that in this case it matters. There are so many ways to impact people's lives, but giving one of your organs seems like one of the most incredible gifts... another way to give the gift of life I guess.

    At any rate, it's an inspiring story, and by telling it through your blog, you're not only impacting the person receiving your story, but motivating others to by being the example. That makes you one of the most awesome people I've never met ;). Kudos!

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  2. Thanks for your kind words Wendy-I appreciate it very much.

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