We are a composite of our many experiences and observations. I think of certain relatives who left behind special gifts or legacies. We often think of heirlooms or keepsakes that were passed down, but each one left something more. Whenever I find myself doing some of the simple things that I watched them do, I am reminded of my time spent with them.
My sister, Tiny always had music playing in her home. We affectionately called her Tiny because she was so petite but a powerhouse otherwise. There was a soft but constant rhythm and beat playing in the background and it gave her visitors a lightness of spirit. Lately, I have been playing my radio in the kitchen at a low volume. It keeps the pace moving and I think of her.
Then there was Irene, one of my father’s cousins. Though she was bed-ridden, her mind was as clear as a bell. She could recall vivid details of events and would hold us spellbound with her conversations. Now, I am often consulted by family members when they are unsure of the details or facts about some former event. They know that I will remember the dates and all. I can safely say that it came from my father’s side and I think of Irene.
My grandfather Chester was a dapper dresser and he did not hesitate to pull out his clean, white and ironed handkerchief if the occasion arose. Recently I found a place that sold beautiful handkerchiefs for women with an embroidered design in the corner. They made me think of him and one Christmas, I gave handkerchiefs as gifts to a few coworkers. I wonder if the girls today even know what a handkerchief is! A tissue is functional but there is nothing like a real, cotton hankie!
And then, there was Uncle Robert. He was the historian who could spew out facts on some event with such ease. He stored information and when he needed it, he could pull it up at a moment’s notice. He did not share what he had read or knew with everybody but for those he deemed worthy, they were in for a treat. I am also quite selective when it comes to who I converse with at length. I try to make sure that I am speaking with those of like minds.
There are a host of relatives whose gifts have been incorporated in some aspect of my life. I think of Uncle Maurice’s beautiful letters, Aunt Myrtle’s jazzy fur coat, Uncle Johnnie’s road maps, Grandmother Corrie’s French books, Uncle Robert Cooper’s business acumen, Aunt Ruth’s delicious hors d’oeuvres, Aunt Vivian’s high fashion and Aunt Alma’s warm and loving heart. Oh and how could I forget Aunt Emma’s golden leaf frosted glasses which probably contributed to the title of my first book, A Golden Leaf in Time Revised?
I acknowledge each of them and recall what they added to my world. It truly ‘takes a village to raise a child.” We all have the opportunity to adopt what we like about those we observe. Some may leave material things behind, but those subtle legacies are embedded within us and help us become more rounded people.
Lynn January 8, 2015