My Mom died 7 years ago, leaving behind old furniture, some photos and family papers, and very little money. I have memories of her, of course. She was a good grandmother to my children. She was a gentle, kind-hearted soul yet in many ways, I felt when she passed away, that I had nothing left of her. I’m not materialistic and I don’t care about money or furniture. Photos were ok, but I had many of them already. What I really wanted was something that reminded me of her. Something I could hold. Something that was her.
What Are You Leaving Behind?
This got me thinking about my own legacy and what I leave behind. I’ll leave behind all kinds of memories, photos, and the typical things most people pass on to their kids. I’ll leave behind lessons. The conversations we’ve had will also play a part. I could write an entire blog post on how our words will remain. Or how what we teach our kids will live on. But that’s not my point.
A few summers before my mom passed away, she came to my house, took plants from her own yard, and planted them in my backyard garden. We spent half the day doing that. At the time, it was just a moment where my mom was trying to help me out. But after she passed away, it has come to mean much more to me. Not only did she share part of her day with me, but she shared her love of gardening with me too. And furthermore, her plants have lived on and are still here in my yard. I’ve split them several times and they surround my home reminding me of her. After all the times I wished she had left me something to hold, her plants are a reminder of what she did leave me. If I ever move, those plants are coming with me.
Thinking It Through
Even though I’m not a gardener, my hope is to do something similar in my own family. I don’t know what that is or will be. Maybe it’s the paintings I hang on our walls of my art. Maybe it’s the cards I give or the framed prints I create for them. Maybe it’s the private poetry I’ve written or the articles I’ve never published. Whatever it is, I hope that it’s enough for them to know I love them.
Creativity and art are never individualistic. They are expressions of love and thoughtfulness that reach through time. We might toss a hallmark card in the trash, but it’s harder to toss a hand written note or a card that was made in watercolor and hand lettering. We might give away a store bought art work, but it’s harder to get rid of something our family member or friend made for us. These things matter.
In a world where everything is digital, I am realizing more and more that it’s the simple touch, however flawed and imperfect, of something I make from my hand means so much. Just like having my mom put her hands in the soil and plant her flowers. It doesn’t matter what the medium is. It only matters that we cared enough to create it, leaving behind something of ourselves.
In the end, planting seeds of kindness will never die. It will live on long after we have left. Our heartfelt art and creativity will take on wings and fly or burrow deep in the earth and grow. We only need to express our abilities in love, giving it away, and trusting it will find it’s purpose.