The evening was divided into three parts. The first was conversation and a page-long questionnaire to see how well we knew my uncle. Most of us abandoned the “do it alone” directive and went straight to the “cooperative” method, pooling our table’s knowledge. It is amazing how little you know someone whom you have known all your life. Who would have guessed he was binge watching Monk. Go figure.
The second part was to fill in those blanks and reveal a little more. My cousin did the honors of roasting and toasting his dad, and between his quick wit and my uncle’s equally amusing replies, we guests were properly entertained . . . aka . . . a lot of laughing interspersed with looks of surprise. (FYI: Our table did incredibly well. All but that Monk answer.)
But it was the third part that made the biggest impression. The ten grandchildren took to the mic to tell a story about grandpa. The youngest revealed that grandpa bought her candy––with his own money! The next youngest loved going in the truck with his grandpa, but let it be known that grandpa listened to really old music––like the eighties. (My guess was it might have heralded even a little bit further back than that.)
As the ages increased so did the sophistication of stories. The lesson in economics from their farmer grandpa––you don’t pick ripe fruit off the trees for a cousinly “fruit fight.” The consequence? Eat or pay for the fifty avocados you destroyed. The voice of reason––any drama? Drop it at the feet of grandpa to help sort out. The spiritual example––here was a godly man we can emulate. Here is our example.
In the public forum, legacies often come in the form of hospital wings, literary tomes, artistic portfolios, and other physical manifestations of a person’s contribution to society. When we see them, we remember, and most often our lives are enriched.
But the most important legacies take place in the personal realm, those values handed down from one generation to a younger generation. The power and peace of a deep faith. The importance of working hard and wasting not. The life grounded in compassion and reason. And yes, sharing really old music with someone you love, and buying that grandchild candy––with your own money.