Legacy

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There is no getting around the fact that each day we grow older. There are zero exceptions although many try to defy this reality by behaving and dressing and looking younger than they really are. As children, we don’t give aging a second thought because it is inconceivable. By the time we hit adolescence we think we are invincible and still don’t give aging any thought, except to acquire a driver’s license. As young adults and married couples, we are so busy with life’s demands that we don’t dwell on growing old. When we become middle aged, we are supposedly at the peak of our earning potential and enjoying life so we shrug off aging. It’s not until we begin to take care of our parents that the reality of mortality really hits home. Besides, there are more aches and pains than in the past.

Growing old is not a bad thing, at least if one is reasonably healthy and has his or her basic needs met. In fact, some of the youngest people I know are in their seventies and eighties! They don’t think old, but are wise and intelligent. They enjoy life and  others. They help those who really need help. They become role models to their grandchildren and others who respect them.

This old farmstead has aged. It served those well who built it and utilized its resources. Over time, I believe the owners and family adapted as well as they could due to the changing culture. But, at some point, the usefulness hit a dead end. The barn with silo and pastures outlived their purpose and fell into disarray. It troubles me to witness such neglect, but the owner’s story could be a difficult one and there may not have been the resources or need to keep up this place. It’s possible the original owners were honorable and hard working people, respected by all. As a side note, I like old barns. For me there is something magical about them, and I enjoy photographing them, as well. Rather a paradox…disliking the neglect, but enjoying the result.

While visiting my dentist the other day he shared with me about his changing life. One daughter just got married. One daughter finished school and works for him as a hygienist. The last daughter will be attending college next year. He then mentioned that at this point in his life he has began thinking about his legacy. I understood what he meant, but I couldn’t really relate. Many people focus on their legacy with respect to their posterity and position in society. There certainly is nothing wrong with doing so, it’s just that I never have. Whatever I am and do (and have done) will speak for itself after I am gone. I simply hope the positives outweigh the negatives and I have blessed others along the way.

 

Memories

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He leaned heavily toward the house and could have done considerable damage to the structure and overhead utilities. So, he had to go, as painful as it was to make the decision to take him down. I arranged the felling of this tree, paid for it’s removal, and even assisted the forester. Cheryl was sad to see him go as she and her siblings played under his branches when they were children. Memories remain even though the curled bark can no longer be touched nor the trunk scaled and branches climbed.

If this big tree could talk, he would speak of fields full of crops and of farming. He witnessed yearly plantings and harvests, grazing animals, and a farmstead with family members fulfilling their chores and friends sharing picnic lunches. Many a sunny day bathed this tree’s leaves while rain and snow drenched his roots. This old boy provided shelter for birds and squirrels who built countless nests in his secure branches. He knew the sounds of children’s laughter swinging high above the earth on homemade rope swings. This once proud maple eventually witnessed the development of a housing subdivision in the late 1950’s. Farmland was replaced by neatly organized neighborhoods with modern streets, utilities, houses and nearby amenities. Yet, he remained standing-like a sentinel.

Eventually, the process of rotting began within his lower trunk, thus reducing the ability of this tree to support the upper trunks and branches as they leaned uncomfortably toward the house. Yet, in spite of this gradual deterioration, he still managed to stand tall, grow leaves in the spring, and even provide a home for raccoons and opossums.

However, there comes a time when the risk outweighs the benefit and he had to be taken down. Watching this 125+ year old maple reduced to firewood made me think about life…and memories. Since there is no Fountain of Youth to drink from, no eternal elixir to be swallowed, and no magical spell which will stop aging; much of what will remain when we leave this home we call Earth are memories. In some cases there may be ongoing programs and inventions created by individuals, and great legacies of victories and cures. However, when one is remembered and even honored, the memories reign supreme.

Although my father fell 32 years ago, his birthday anniversary is today, February 4th. He would be 92 had he reached this day. I am grateful to have known him in a positive sort of way, and to have been loved by him even though I was only a young father when he died. To be sure, I recognize that all memories may not be pleasant for some, and may often be very painful to visit. Too many children don’t even know their father which is a travesty. However, my hope is for all of your future ones to be filled with much joy and fondness. Never take for granted the sweet moments when wonderful memories can be made, and then act upon them like there is no tomorrow. Spring is just around the corner!

 

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