I decided it was time to tackle them. So I had my hubby drag them in the living room. I poured myself a soda, grabbed a bag of chips and plopped down on the floor to explore.
The first box I opened was filled with old black and whites. Great-great-grandparents, relatives I’ve only heard stories about and never met. Turning over each picture I was greeted with my grandma’s beautiful handwriting… Mary Abrams, 1903, 4 years old; John Halleck, Emma’s father, 1856.
I continued to dig, began to find pictures of relatives whose names and faces were familiar to me. Then I found a simple flat box. I assumed it was just stationary. Noni (grandma) was a letter writer and was always well stocked with beautiful cards and stationary. But there, buried beneath the cards were 7 small, aged pieces of paper. And written on them was poetry. Poetry that she had written to her sweetheart who was off fighting in World War II.
There in my hands I found my legacy. I poured over each word, tears streaming down my face. You see, it was Noni who taught me to love words. She is the one who encouraged me to write. My passion for pen and page came directly from her. And there in my hands… a treasure. Private, poetic words of love.
Their marriage lasted 55 years. I remember the weekend I had to say goodbye to her, sitting in that hospital room listening to a machine breathe on her behalf. I remember the restaurant we all went to for lunch, the park bench my Bompa and I sat on as we waited for our table. I remember the words he spoke to me, “Keri, she wasn’t just my wife. She was my sweetheart. I want you to know that. Know that I loved her, everyday.” As I took his wrinkled, arthritic hand in mine my heart was full. Full of joy for a couple who stood the test of time, who loved freely, who left a legacy.
And now, evidence of their love hangs in the entryway of my home. It greets me every day. A reminder to love.
One day, 50 or so years from now, someone that I’ve yet to meet will unpack a box filled with memoirs from my life. I wonder what they will cherish. Will they find something of mine that causes their heart to be filled with longing? Will they find something worth framing and hanging on the walls of their home. Will they talk of “grandma” and “grandpa” with pride?
I know what a gift it is to leave a legacy. For it is a gift I have received. It is a gift I desire to pass on to my own children and grandchildren. And so, today, my heart is filled with questions… Have I loved well? Have I cherished deeply? Have I laughed freely? Am I leaving a legacy?