The Legacy We Owe The World
A few springs ago, my grandma, whom we called Mim, passed away. At the age of 91, she was a force to be reckoned with, and yet, had the most tender heart.
I can remember year after year finding her writing in her journal. When I was younger, maybe junior high, I asked her what she wrote about, and she replied very simplistically, “All the things I feel and about my favorite things.” I tucked that little tidbit away for decades. The answer sufficed during that season of my life.
I never knew if what she told me was true. I would have never thought to sneak a peak at her diaries. She could’ve been writing about how my Paw Paw went for too many walks during the day and didn’t put enough sugar in the lemonade, for all I know. But as I got older, I realized that it’s one thing to keep a gratitude journal, and it is another thing to tuck away happiness for no one’s eyes to see but your own. When Jack was little, he and I would go down there and bring her lunch. What she said about her journal resonated with me all those years later, and I finally decided to ask about it. It came to a point that it didn’t sit well with me as my life experiences broadened.
I asked her if she remembered that conversation, and she said she did.
I said, “Why do you put all of your favorite things in a book that no one can read or know?
Why do you hide your favorite things?
Does Paw Paw know your favorite things?
Do your girls or your sisters know?
Do I even know your favorite things?”
She said, “I really don’t know. But, it isn’t what I want for you or what I want for Jack.”
She was a product of her generation and a by-product of the great depression but I’d love to believe she tried her best to break some of the cycles. But, so many of those teachings of unworthiness, lack, scarcity are getting passed down decade after decade. Here I am, two generations later and still hearing the whisperings of that way of life echoing loud and clear for so many families.
We think that having a coat of armor makes us impressively resilient.
We believe that sacrificing our needs shows everyone just how benignly affable we’ve become. We hope that if we scratch the surface of our feelings or go through the motions and stick to a routine, it will be enough to placate our family, our children and our friends into believing it’s a real connection.
And somehow, we’re trained into believing that being selfless will result in happiness. It doesn’t feel like happiness to those around us. We don’t seem happy. But in our heads, we’ve convinced ourselves that our needs must never come to light.
I see it every day. The pretending to accept things that no longer feel like home.
And that’s some “heartbreak of the soul” stuff right there.
Remember when you were little and someone asked you what your favorite color is or what you want to be when you grow up or what your favorite number is. You didn’t consult others or take a poll. You found the answer inside your head, and you picked something. We tromped around with belief in our bones and certainty in our souls. And at that point in time, it was the truest thing that we knew.
I’d like for Jack to live a life based on the truest things we know. True isn’t always easy. True isn’t always glamorous. But, I’d like to believe the truth is made up of millions of little things, decisions or moments, that our souls celebrate. Maybe the truth can be simplified. It’s acknowledging that truth is all the things we feel, and it is about our favorite things. Big or small.
It reminds me of our simple truths that build upon each other. Each one growing to allow us to live with so much more purpose, connect with more depth, and love more courageously. I believe that this is the lesson and legacy Mim was trying to leave behind and the lesson and legacy that we truly owe our children.