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A Character Legacy

On May 14, 2019, my sister will again present THE LUCETTE TOPPER FRENCH AWARD to a deserving high school student at The Kinkaid School, in Houston, Texas. This will be my first year to join her in the presentation and I am beyond ecstatic. My mother, French-born

Lucette, passed in 2012 and the outpouring of gifts directed to the school precipitated the creation of this legacy award given every year since her passing. A legacy award for Lucette is beautiful and ironic. Mother influenced, quite humbly, below the radar by today’s standards. She ran a household, not a corporation. She was not a teacher but rather gracefully volunteered at the crepe booth on field day. She rarely interfered with or helicoptered the education of her five children. Like many mothers, she saw to it our ambitions were nurtured when and if possible, with minimal drama and maximum shuttling. This award bears my mothers name because of WHO she was, not what she did. She was the go-to mom when classmates sought a steady and sound ear or a home-away-from-home welcome. She was loyal and cheerful, warm and sincere, open and approachable, generous and elegant, curious and refined, encouraging and realistic, thoughtful and respectful. While it was a surprise to our family to receive a call from the school that the memorial funds rivaled those of a member of the Board of Trustees, it was at the same time, not a surprise at all that her impeccable character was revered to such an extent. She passed just days before her 90th birthday, having outlived most of her peers. I remain in awe at this recognition stemming from the generosity and love of the younger people she endeared to her. Not only do I still hold her in my heart, but I remain challenged by her “character legacy” - leaving a legacy for nothing more than being who you are, worthy of an outpouring of generosity and love from those in your path. In my own work with my clients, I incorporate character legacy self-reflection, focused on being rather than doing, hoping to create a domino effect as a tribute to my sweet mother.

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