Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Legacy VI: Go Gently, Speak Kindly

I wept when I first read the post below by my friend Aeleen.  I don't mean a tear came to my eye.  I mean I sobbed.  It floored me.  I'm anxious for you to read this gift of a post, too, so I'll just say that I fell head over heels for Aeleen the very first time I visited her blog, prairie girl studio.  She has a soul as vast and beautiful as the Canadian prairies she loves so much.  You'll see it in her stunning photographs and read it in her descriptions; this woman pays attention to the small but telling detail, and she reveals it to us in a way that helps us see the everyday with fresh eyes.  When you've finished reading her post, have dried your eyes and blown your nose, pay a visit to her blog--where you'll find not only Aeleen's photographs, but her valuable tips on processing.  Oh, and there's her gorgeous flickr stream.  One peek and I think you'll fall head over heels, too. 


as all of the contributors before me, i am completely honoured and humbled beyond to be here. 
putting together words to share in this marvelous wordsmith's home is indeed a pleasure and privilege ...
please bear with me with my type-as-i-speak 'copywriting' style ... ; )

sincerely ~ thank you so much, gigi for asking me to be a part of your magnificent LEGACY series ... xo
: : :

i thought i knew what legacy meant to me. for the longest time i believed that an ideal legacy to leave to the world would be to write a book, or to sew quilts, or compose a piece of music ~ an individual achievement to be recognized and remembered on the world stage. i believed that legacy meant to leave something 'tangible' on a platform for the planet, if you will. i thought it meant that everyone would be able to 'touch' your legacy today and for years to come. something sustainable and worthy of value. while i do believe all of that is true, as time has gone on, i have been more and more thoughtful about what legacy closer to home, on my own back step, truly means to me.

{i need you to create your own image here ~ please close your eyes, wrap your arms around yourself and squeeze tight ... }

i have been thinking about my late aunti jen's immensely warm and loving hugs ~ her legacy to me ... 

my mother's well worn, tried and true recipe books that aren't only a testament to her constant nourishing for our family, but to the garden produce and preserves and dedicated, hard work she would do with loving hands in the most immaculate way ...

my late great uncle inkster's stick cane, his vw 'bugs' he always hand painted with a brush, his worldly adventures at sea and his colourful letters he would send from afar ...

mrs. robert's chocolate cake recipe, windowsills lined with carefully tended violets and her strong integrity that lives on in her family ....

but perhaps the legacy i think of most and the story i want to share with you is one of my dad's legacies, which entails giving new life to discarded, tarnished silverware ...

my dad was a farmer and grain buyer. he was well respected for his honesty and hard work in taking grain into his country elevator and shipping it out for the best prices. he was renown for the ability to take a head of grain, rub the kernels out in the palm of his hand, gently blow the chaff away and then grade the grain with outstanding precision. a number of young farmers have commented to me how much they learned about grain farming from my dad.

then, the day came when mom and dad had to move from their life long country home to town. it was an extremely difficult transition for my dad. he found the days long as he didn't really have any hobbies, but really liked to tinker with his hands. 

i knew he would have to do something that he felt was useful and productive. the light came on for me one day when i spied a pail of old silverware that my husband had picked up for me at a garage sale, knowing i would do 'something' with them 'some day'.  

this one pail led to easily a thousand or more forks, spoons, knives that would be pounded, drilled and carefully threaded with fishing line to make delightful and delicate sounding garden wind chimes! 

once dad grasped this new found pastime, he spent hours out in his garage assembling chimes. in fact, he couldn't make them fast enough so he could hop on his mobility scooter and deliver a set to someone who 'just might like them'. he so joyously gave well over one hundred sets to family, friends and people around town who had meant something to dad over the years. 

even though this magnificent pastime helped lift my dad's depression, it didn't really help with the ever increasing dementia that was changing this man's mind, thoughts and actions. you see, i had created this 'monster' who we could no longer keep in spoons and forks, (we had bought all the ones we could in the shops in town and they couldn't keep up!), and in dad's demented mind, it was more important to make these gifts to give to people than it was to 'take' the spoons from the local coffee shop to fulfill his task. 

i received a few calls from the local authorities that someone had nearly hit dad on his scooter as he raced a million miles an hour, never stopping at stop signs, to the coffee shop or to deliver chimes. 

and yes, calls from the cafe saying another bunch of spoons had gone missing, and at their insistence, i would simply pay for replacements as they recognized it was more important for dad to have his daily coffee and visits with friends. i can not express the gratitude for the blessings, graciousness and kindness of living in a small rural town ~ legacies in their own rights ...

it worried my mom that the final acts of my dad's life would be what people remembered him for. that his true legacy of life would be somehow tarnished. but, i truly believe that when the people who he held dear, hear those chimes gently tinkling in the breeze, they will remember his simple acts and the generous, kind hearted and thoughtful man my dad truly was.  the dementia part of his life faded and forgotten. 

to think his legacy lives on in the breeze ... that dries the grain ... that lifts birds in flight ... that brings the soft rains in spring ... and brings music to my ears just outside my window ... means his legacy will live on forever for me ...

and ... to pay forward his act of kindness would be the ultimate legacy.

i feel blessed to be surrounded by legacy in many forms and love how it spins and weaves the very threads of all our existence.

and, if in my time on this earth, i touch one person just once ... smile at them, talk with them, be kind, make them feel good and important in who they are ... and if that is how they remember me, what they saw in me as a legacy, then my life would be full and complete.

go gently, speak kindly



  1. This post is just gorgeous, "and, if in my time on this earth, i touch one person just once ... smile at them, talk with them, be kind, make them feel good and important in who they are ... and if that is how they remember me, what they saw in me as a legacy, then my life would be full and complete."
    Today I am actually mourning someone who did just that.

  2. I'm sobbing as I type, how can I not after reading this beautiful tribute to a wonder, kind and generous man.

    Aeleen has a heart full of love, a generous spirit and a talent for putting words and photos together in a way that pulls us all in.

  3. What a beautiful, beautiful tribute to this man, and his life. Truly, I am moved beyond words here.
    Thank you so much. C x

  4. Such a beautiful story and tribute to a wonderful father and a loving daughter. It brought tears to my eyes! xxoo :)

  5. you just touched my heart and made love in creativity even clearer to my eyes. Thank you.

  6. so very touching .. i understand it firsthand as i gaze at a "painting" my mom created after her stroke... never the same .. the desire so ingrained

    thank you PG for your honest and tender story..the images are divine as always

  7. cannot ype, cannot see, tears flowing, such a story I will always remember and share. Thank you so much.



  8. This is absolutely beautiful. Thank you.

  9. I am sobbing, reading this, and being grateful for my wonderful daddy and all the wonderful daddies out there, who make an amazing difference in the lives of little girls and big girls alike. What a lovely tribute.

  10. i can't see the screen for all the tears that have swelled up in my eyes. PG..this post is probably the most emotional and loving post I've ever read. You have a special gift of words. I am going to add this post to my "Latest & Greatest" page for more to see.

  11. PG ~
    your words and beautiful memories of your father always make my heart smile. And you want to know something, you and Gigi were two of my very first 'blogging friends', and my life has only been enriched with pure goodness and thoughtful journeys since the day our paths crossed. For this, I am so thankful, and I truly believe one day we will all sit around a big ol' table with warm tea in our hands and laugh, cry, and just be as we share stories 'live' in person. I cannot wait for this day.

    a most beautiful tribute to your father, a true legacy.


  12. Gigi, what can I say that hasn't already been said and said better than I could.
    An incredible post from Prairie Girl.
    Now I am of to bed with a lump in my throat, tears in my eyes and a b....y stuffed up nose!

  13. This is one of the most touching posts I have ever read...not only the incredible tribute to her father, but the smaller earlier tributes too...have really resounded within me...Thank you Gigi and Aeleen.

  14. so beautifully and poignantly written Aeleen.

  15. so beautiful. you have touched me so deeply, with your gift of words.
    how lovely.
    i send you both much love.

  16. So, so beautiful. What an incredible tribute. From now on when I hear delicate chimes coming from someone's veranda, I know I will instantly think of Praire Girl and her beautiful father. What a gloriously evocative story ! Thank you Prairie Girl and Gigi.

  17. hugs to all of your hearts ...

    i wasn't sure how to respond to all of your lovely words ...

    i have this wonderful warmth deep down ~ and i thank you so much for that ... and i thank you, gigi for the opportunity to share this ~ to possibly make a difference in someone's day ~ to pass along kindness ...

    i was thinking that my dad wouldn't like that i caused so many tears, but he would be deeply touched that all of you would say such kind things to me ... and i know that if he was here today and i told him about you, he would want to know if you would like some chimes, too ... : )

    love to all ~

  18. This has hit me like a ton of bricks. My Mother had Alsheimers and for 12 years I watched this beautiful woman, with such elegance retreat into a person of complete nothingness. It was so awful, but it was her beautiful face and the hands I kissed and the hair I brushed.I still dream of her and miss her so bad. She left me with Love.
    This was a beautiful post. I am still crying.


  19. This was an exquisite story, so heart warming and touching. Your father was a beautiful man and he must have been very proud of you....xv

  20. I felt the tender yet strong love in this post. Your father left a legacy that you too carry on PG...your heart shows through your writing and your photos. One day I'd love to meet you face to face my dear friend.
    (thank you for this Gigi xo)

  21. This is such a heart-felt story. So so beautiful.

    What an amazing man your father was. Such a memorable and loving legacy.

  22. Just like Gigi, I find myself crying. Your Dad left behind such a legacy. Not only the ones of which you wrote. He left you and your deep and abiding love. That's a legacy I know you will pass on for the whole of your life.

  23. this left me wanting to cry as well, but then I thought of your lovely father on his mission to get more silver ware and it brought such a smile to my face. so this is how I choose to remember your father, hunting, gathering, creating and sharing his talents. God bless you all!


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