It began with a series of conversations he had with his father, who was under hospice care. His father had never talked about his experiences in World War II, but seemed to want to share them finally. But the war stories turned into something more poignant. He had really never heard his father’s take on his values and his hopes in his life and his hopes for his family.
His father’s discussions were written up as a series he called Passing Thoughts. These were short reads designed as legacy statements and lessons learned guidance from his father to those in his family.
The Passing Thoughts were organized as electronic document to share with the family. The response to Passing Thoughts was more than he expected. They became something that each of his siblings used with their children and eventually their children’s children. His father’s values and common sense hopes provided a family bond that promised to last for generations.
When his mother was diagnosed with early onset dementia, he started capturing her values and hopes for her version of Passing Thoughts. Again, these were treasured by his family.
Within the family, he became known as the Hope Keeper. What started out as a series of conversations with his father and mother had become an important part of his life. When he mentioned Passing Thoughts to a friend, he was asked if he could do something similar at a local nursing home.
It didn’t take long for the interest in Passing Thoughts to grow. Realizing that he would be overwhelmed by conversations needed to generate Passing Thoughts for all that were interested, he began to conduct training for family members so they could develop Passing Thoughts for their own loved ones. This was probably the most challenging thing he had ever done because he didn’t realize the skills necessary to get people to hold these types of discussions and capture them in inspirational messages.
Overtime, he developed a sense of how to teach what was necessary. And through the process of learning how to teach others, he developed a true sense of how every person has values and hopes that often go unrealized, but really tell who they are and what they want their legacy to be.
The Hope Keeper never earned a penny for his efforts. He never sought publicity. The Passing Thoughts were kept private to families. But the Hope Keeper’s own hopes and values were embodied in every Passing Thoughts document.
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“It’s hard to forget someone who gave you so much to remember.” – Anonymous