What will people say about you when you are gone? What do they say now when they hear your name?
Did you see the Disney movie / musical Hamilton? I saw it when it was released on Disney plus this past July. It wasn’t what I expected, but I enjoyed it immensely. In fact I watched it for a second time last night. I like watching movies at least twice, in case I missed something the first time.
The film, starring the original Broadway cast, had great reviews, in fact my 12 year old Granddaughter, Emily, professed that she had seen it 10 times and it was her “MOST FAVORITE MOVIE EVER!” Who’d have thought?
I was shocked. I asked what she could tell me about it and she quickly rattled off all of the characters names. She jumped off her bed and turned the soundtrack on and began singing the songs with great bravado. I love that she loves to sing, but I asked what she had learned about Alexander Hamilton.
She gave me vague info like – he had something to do with the constitution, he was in a war, he was married, his son was killed and that Hamilton was also killed in a dual.
I reminded her of a few more details like the fact that he had a really rough begining to his life – that he was born on an island in the Carribean, not in the United States, (in fact we weren’t even a country yet). His mother wasn’t married when he was born, and that he eventually became an orphan and was poor.
I explained to her that Hamilton was an accountant and was good with numbers just like her Dad. He was a soldier and fought in the Revolutionary War. George Washington liked him and made him his assistant and that Hamilton was one of America’s Founding Fathers and had a lot to do with making America what it is today.
He was also the country’s first Secretary of the Treasury – meaning he took care of the countries money even before Ben Franklin was ever thought to be put on a hundred dollar bill.
I pulled out a 10 dollar bill and showed her that Hamilton’s picture was on it. She smiled and asked if she could keep it. (Sly girl).
All of these were great facts but I tried to impress upon her that Hamilton was a writer. That he was always writing. He wrote an article about a Hurricane. He wrote about his feelings and what he thought would be best for our country before it was one.
We looked up Hamilton on the computer and found that He wrote letters for George Washington including “Washington’s Farewell Address.” and “The Federalist Papers” that helped promote The Constitution that we have today.
It was fascinating to learn that He had started a newspaper in New York, called the New York Post. (She asked what a newspaper was. ugggg). He wrote articles fighting for Freedom and Liberty. He wrote from his heart and soul and stood up for what he believed in.
I asked if she knew anything about Hamilton or remembered anything from school about him, before seeing the movie and she said “Not really”.
I admitted that I didn’t know or remember much about him either and that I had been around a lot longer than she had and had been out of school for a very long time.
I shared how I thought it very sad that neither of us knew him and yet so much that we take for granted – our freedom and our rights to do and say what we want – are partly because of things Hamilton said and did.
I then asked her about Hamilton’s wife Eliza. I asked if she thought Eliza did anything important that we should remember. I asked her specifically what Eliza had done after Hamilton died.
She thought about it and surprisingly couldn’t come up with anything other than that Hamilton had cheated on her but she went back to him. After Hamilton died she was sad that Hamilton and her son had both died in duals.
I pressed her to think harder. I suggested that she think of the last song that Eliza sang, since she apparently loved the movie more for the music rather than for the historical information it provided. She still drew a blank, so together we did a computer search for Elizabeth Hamilton as well.
We found that Elizabeth had come from a wealthy family, was born in what is now New York and that she went to church regularly. She was a tomboy when she was young and was known for being very strong willed even as an adult. That was something that both my granddaughter and I could relate to.
After Alexander died, Eliza collected and saved every scrap of paper Alexander had written and they are kept, to this day, in the Library of Congress in Washington D C. In doing this, Elizabeth made sure that everyone could learn from them and remember Hamilton through them, more importantly, to remember what GIFTS HE HAD LEFT BEHIND.
We read that because of Eliza’s great faith, she believed “all children should be literate in order to study the Bible.”
So it was no surprise to learn that because of her strong faith and her desire to help underprivileged and orphaned children, she helped to establish two institutions in New York that supported lower-income children.
She founded The Hamilton Free School, which offered education to students of families who couldn’t afford private education for their children. She also helped establish the Orphan Asylum Society, the first private orphanage in New York that provided a home for hundreds of children.
After discovering all that Eliza had done, we discussed how sad it was that, until the movie came out, neither of us knew much about either Alexander or Elizabeth Hamilton. I spoke about how sad it is to live a life and do so much for the people of this world and how quickly you are forgotten after you are gone.
As we talked, I suggested that maybe remembering our name isn’t as important as the good things that we do when we are alive and memories and changes we leave behind; like all the ways we help people and the ripple effect it has on the world.
We talked about the fact that we only live once and have one chance to make a difference in someone’s life or to leave something behind that might change them or the world.
If you give food to someone that’s hungry, to help someone that’s less fortunate than yourself, If you stand up for the rights of others and against injustice and persecution, they may not remember your name but they will remember what you did. Your name doesn’t change their life. Your actions do. So you better make yours matter.
I asked my granddaughter if she had ever heard someone say something like “Did you hear about that guy that saved those people from that burning house?” No names are mentioned. It’s the action that people remember and talk about.
I asked her what she thought people think or say when they hear HER name? Do they say… oh Emily is really mean. She never shares. She’s always late and doesn’t care about anyone but herself. I’m glad she’s not here. She’s no fun to be around. (I reminded her that inactions and being mean and hurtful leave memories too).
Or do people say…Emily is so nice! She helped me with my homework and I got a B+. She’s always helping other people. She even made cookies and took them next door when her neighbor broke her leg. She makes me feel better when I’m around her. She always listens when I have a problem. She loves animals and is always kind to them. She’s a great writer, plays the violin and she really has a beautiful voice.
She sat thinking about what I said and then I asked what she hoped people would remember about her if she moved away or what people would remember after she goes to heaven? What gifts will she leave behind, like Hamilton and Eliza, to make the world better?
I reminded her that SHE was a GIFT, from GOD, to me, to her family and to the world and that God had given her gifts and talents to share with us, while she was here.
I told her that she had been given many gifts …such as her love and compassion for animals, her ability to create marvelous things out of nothing, her caring nature, her ability to listen, to write (just like Hamilton), sing and to play violin.
I leaned over and whispered that she also had the gift of Jesus in her heart and that this was the greatest gift of all that she could share with the world.
I encouraged her take a moment to think about all the amazing things she could do with her gifts and to make a list. I suggested that when she graduates from High School, five years from now, she could look back at her list and see if anything had changed or could be added to it.
Maybe she could write a book – inspiring others and defending freedom of life and faith, much like Hamilton? Maybe she’d become a Nurse, an Evangelist, or go on Mission trips like me because of her caring nature. Maybe would create her own business like her Dad because she’s so good at math and has a great imagination and strong will?
Would she maybe care for children like Eliza Hamilton…maybe even help build an orphanage in a third world country because God gave her a big heart.
Would her love and compassion for animals lead her to become a Veterinarian, or maybe inspire her to build a free veterinary hospital or a home for strays.
Maybe she could share her musical abilities with the world and play at Carnegie hall. I would not even be surprised if she used her ability to think and believe outside the box, to build the first shopping center on Mars after we establish a colony there.
She had wonderful gifts. It was just a matter of deciding how to best share them with the world.
I left her alone to think about it – her eyes glazing over with all the possibilities.
Neither of us had remembered Alexander Hamilton or knew much about him before that magnificent movie, but both my granddaughter and I were reaping the benefits of all that he had done for us over two hundred years ago.
Hamilton shared all of his gifts with the world….His writing and HIS leadership ability, HIS ideals and HIS beliefs…which all helped establish OUR freedom …all were gifts that he left us…all gifts that were given to him by God. If he hadn’t shared these gifts with us, where would we be? Would we even be a FREE Country today?
What about you? What gifts has God given you? Do you need to believe and think outside the box? Are you using them, sharing them? Maybe you should make a list. It’s not too late. You’re never too old.
Are you a healer, a listener, a creator, a writer, musician or an artist? Are you a peacemaker, everyone’s shoulder to lean on, a good listener, a teacher or a defender of those less fortunate like Eliza Hamilton. Do you stand up for what you believe, like Alexander? Do you share your faith? Are you making a difference? Make a list!
Don’t let the world, your circumstances or your past hold you back. Pull yourself out of that box that’s holding you back.
Hamilton was a poor orphan and he didn’t let his circumstances or his past stop him from becoming all that he could be. He didn’t let people hold him back or tell him what he could or couldn’t believe in or accomplish.
Are you everything that God intended for you to be? Are you doing what He wants you to do? Are you being God’s hands, feet and voice in a world that needs to see, hear and feel HIM?
You are a GIFT to THE WORLD! What Gifts will YOU leave behind when your’e gone? How will you be remembered? If the gifts along with the faith, courage and determination of two simple people like Hamilton and Eliza can change the lives of millions, even today, think what you could do.
Like I told my Granddaughter Emily………Think about it! Make a list! Use the gifts God gave you and You just might find that you can change the world.
From my heart to yours. VICTORIA