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Rules of Life – Beyond Legality

By Attorney Katherine S. Breckenridge, Esq.

Published June 4, 2015 – Culpeper Times

Elder Law : Intangible Assets : Legacy

Bend your knees, and the wind will not knock you over a rule of life from my dear friend, Phyllis Katz, one who has a true gift of discernment for the law and for human nature as it intersects with and uses the law.

As a community we work within the rules of law of the legal system every day, though many of us do so without ever coming into direct contact with the judicial system or a government body. Instead, it is the rules of life that are our active guideposts, which often define us, and are foremost in our thoughts as we chart our courses.

These guideposts may be in the form of gentle encouragements spoken by grandparents, words of boundary set forth via tough love by responsible parents, wisdom shared by a teacher or a coach, or biblical truths.

When my Grandma passed away when I was in high school, I remember my Dad sharing, that when he entered the Navy, Grandma gave a Bible to him and inscribed in that Bible was, God loves you and I love you. Those seven powerful words resonated with me as a teenager. Truly, in reflection, is there anything else?

As a teenager, the Bible verse that stayed at the forefront of my mind during decision processes was, Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty . . .(1 Corinthians 9:24-26 NKJV) That is quite a rule of life and convicting to say the least.

Why is that not the mantra that is placed in front of our youth, in front of each generation? If we, as a community, could put one thought in front of the younger generations that would have a positive and persuasive impact on their lives, what would that statement be and who is worthy to make such a statement?

It is my belief that we should tirelessly seek the input of those who are the senior adults in our community and use their wisdom to chart our direction. Thus, I turned to several individuals and asked them to share a life advice statement for use by younger generations. The following are timeless and treasured.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Claude Minnich

“Is what you are doing in your life designed to make the world a better place for those coming after you?” James Holmes (from his father)

“A person needs to really think about the decisions one makes. Don’t just act with your peers. One hours worth of pleasure may mess up the rest of your life. Also, When you get married you have to make sure you have the right woman. You have to go by the heart that is what lasts, not necessarily the appearance.” Chris Robertson

“Be kind to others, and respect your elders.” Linda and Chris Robertson

“We have wills, powers of attorney, and other estate planning documents to help our kids when we are no longer able to care for ourselves or are no longer here. I would strongly suggest that, no matter the age, that you make adequate preparations for the future.” Richard L. Spangler

“It is important for a parent to model forgiveness for their children. If you are wrong, say so. Don’t be afraid to say, I’m sorry. Will you forgive me? This way, children learn to take responsibility for their actions. If they see their parents admitting they are wrong, it is easier for the child to do the same. Of course, as a Christian, the ultimate forgiver is God through his son Jesus. Saying I’m sorry can turn into a real teachable moment.” Stephanie Trementozzi

“I know it’s hard to believe when you’re young, but life really is fragile and fleeting, so while keeping your eyes on tomorrow, set your goal on eternity. Youngsters don’t disparage the wisdom of your elders, they’ve been where you are and are now where you’ll one day be.”Richard and Lee Cenkus

These quotes are priceless and shared from very special individuals within our community who have a great deal of wisdom. And, if one incorporates even a portion of these rules of life,, then perhaps one will always be able to answer Phyllis Katz second rule, to Always answer the question, How are you? With the word “Terrific” (people will believe it). In fact, with your eyes on the prize, you may actually mean it!