On Loving and Legacies

I passed the magazine stand at the grocery store. It said something about a legacy leaving us and just for a second I thought “How did People Magazine know that my Aunt Jane died?” I took a closer look at the cover only to discover they were speaking of Shirley Temple Black. I don’t know Ms. Temple-Black personally, but I think I would take the legacy of my Great Aunt Jane.

I have heard that the world really turns on small things done with great love, and now I am sure that is true. My great Aunt Jane was notorious for doing things with great love. From the Thanksgiving dinners of 80 plus people, to the way she called all of her grown up grandsons, sons, and nephews by their diminutive names.  No one calls my dad Johnny. But my Aunt Jane did, and he liked it. Small things with great love, now that is a legacy worth a magazine cover.

Today, as my family makes the way to her funeral I find myself reflecting on the things I will miss most. The way she would smile when I walked in for Thanksgiving, even with 75 people already there, I was wanted I was loved. And the way she loved to grant the requests of her grandchildren, the way she would turn her head and smile at them and say, “Well, I think that would be alright.”

There are now more of my grandmother’s generation on that side of heaven than this. I don’t know about the rest of the country, but they are certainly my greatest generation. Full of farmers, teachers, nurses, everyday people who loved with a  love that was greater than love, who sent cards and baby blankets and hand carved salt and pepper shakers to the obscene amount of great-nieces and nephews because they wanted to, because they loved us.


Recently, I made a bunch of banners out of old book pages. I sewed them together with a white and red thread and tucked them into the mail with a note on the back “the banner over you is love.” I sent them on their way and forgot about them. I did it because I like to keep my hands busy while I watch television, because I like to see trash become treasure with just a little bit of work, because I love the women in my online community and I like to presents and mail and surprises.

So, I sent out a bunch of banners, and didn’t think twice about where they might land. The craziest thing started happening. People started asking me how in the world I could have known. How in the world could I have known that a red thread was their thing? How could I have known that this is their life verse or that is their favorite book? How did I know that they were having a bad week or they were struggling to feel seen? How in the world did I know?

I didn’t know. I like making crafts out of abandoned objects and I happened to do that with love. The responses filled me in a way that re-tweets and blog stats never will. I am trying to hang on to that. I am trying to learn the lesson for myself that I have watched lived out for me my entire life.

Anything done with great love is worth doing. Loving is what leaves your legacy.



9 thoughts on “On Loving and Legacies

  1. I’m sorry for the loss of your great-aunt. A hole that can’t be filled this side of Heaven. So sorry.

    My legacy…I guess it’s the love and care of 27 abandoned and mistreated dogs, while I’m dealing with a terminal illness. I hope that the example shows that love is worth passing on, that these small souls can give back in far greater measure than the care they require.

    Did I say small souls? Each one of them, I’ve found, has a depth of unconditional love far greater than my own.

    Great souls, and to help them is my final, and greatest privilege.

      • Abby, thank you.

        If I may, I’d like to share one story…Bella the Wonder Dog.

        She’s a Toto-like terrier, whom we found in a rain-filled ditch last July, her back broken. We brought her to the vet, who said the only thing that could help her was love.

        We made a wheelchair for her, to help her build strength. To our surprise, she started moving her hind legs, trying to ‘paddle’. She gets PT every day, along with movement patterning.

        Now she can stand with minimal assistance, and she’s learning to walk. It’ll be a slow process. She can do ‘pushups’; I hold her front paws off the ground, and she does pushups on her hind legs.

        He best pal is our newest arrival, a young Pit called Pitunia JezeBull, who was dumped from a car near our home. When we found her, she was desperately trying to catch up with the vehicle from which she’d been thrown.

        Bella and Pitunia make a great pair. They’re in adjacent crates, and form the “Ladies’ Attitude Corner”. The rest of the gang – mostly Pits – are rather frightened of them.

        The legacy builds every day.

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