The Legacy of Love

Over the years I have attended many industry related seminars and conferences where I have been able to enjoy various motivational speakers, but the one that made the greatest impact on me is Dr. Jerry Linenger, a retired U.S Navy flight surgeon and NASA astronaut.

His story has been referred to as one of the most dangerous and dramatic missions in the entire history of aerospace. While spending nearly five months aboard the Russian space station Mir, Jerry faced many life-threatening events, which ranged from a repeated failure of life support systems to a near miss between the space station he was living on and the re-supply spacecraft. To make matters even more complicated, there were several computer failures that were believed to be the cause of the space station uncontrollably tumbling through space. Worst of all, he and his fellow astronauts narrowly survived a raging, smoke-billowing fire that has been deemed the most severe fire aboard an orbiting spacecraft.

During this gut wrenching ordeal, Dr. Linenger expressed an overwhelming reoccurrence of fear “that he hadn’t left anything behind for his newborn son.”


As he was recounting the tale, something I could only imagine happening in the movies, I thought to myself how does this relate to the financial conference and wondered if he was going to say something about an inheritance or life insurance. To my surprise he didn’t mention either, but he delved into the value of love. He went on to explain that when he began his mission, his wife was pregnant and he wished that he had left a letter for his infant son to read when he grew up. He wanted to tell his son about himself and how much he loved him. At that moment, my inherent mother’s instinct was invoked, along with some tears; I was in complete awe of Dr. Linenger’s sincerity and compassion.


Dr. Linenger survived many chaotic ordeals in outer space, including the raging fire, all of which made him realize just how much his wife and children meant to him.  He vowed that he would tell them daily just how much he loved and cherished them.  Having once experienced the very real possibility of never seeing them again and never being able to express his love and admiration for them again, he made it his top priority to tell his wife and children that he loved them, every single day.


Outside view of the Mir space station. Credit: NASA

You and I probably aren’t going to be on a space station anytime soon, but we do spend time away from our families and you can never be certain of tomorrow. So, I would like to suggest, as you continue to navigate through your daily patterns of life, add a daily “I love you” to all those you care about. Finally, I believe that it is very important to consider creating a financial and estate plan that will help ensure that the lifestyle you have created for them will continue. What better way to say, “I Love You!”


I hope this article helped answer the questions we received this month regarding the importance of estate planning. We hope this prompts you to ask yourself: What will I leave behind? Will there be level of certainty that you loved and cared for your family to the best of your ability? Have you instilled values in your children that you would like to see transcend into the next generation of your family?


Financial and estate planning are a necessity for your family’s future quality of life.  Dr. Linenger realized just how valuable his loved ones were to him, when it could have been too late. However, he did something about it as soon as he got home.


Don’t miss your opportunity to leave a legacy behind for your family, and most importantly don’t forget to say, “I love you” to those you care about.