Saturday, October 8, 2016

I want my legacy to be...

It’s been awhile since I wrote a post for Finish the Sentence Friday…July, in fact. This week’s prompt is too good to pass up though…and since it’s a topic on which I frequently dwell, here goes…

I want my legacy to be…boy, there’s a loaded sentence prompt! When I had my first child, twenty-eight years ago, I started thinking about what I wanted her to remember about me. Not my temper, that was for sure…so what did I want her to know about me? To remember about me? This started me thinking about some of the things I remembered about the significant people in my life, and even those people I grew up admiring. My grandmother was the first really significant leaver of legacy in my life, so I guess she’s as good a place to start as any…
L-R: Sibby Isabelle Copeland, Ethel May Copeland, Joseph Franklin Copeland (not sure who the children are)
Ethel May Copeland was born the year that the World’s Fair came to St. Louis Missouri. She was the daughter of two distant cousins – if memory serves, her parents were fourth cousins to each other. Sibby Isabelle Copeland (Belle) married Joseph Franklin Copeland and my grandmother, Ethel, was their first child. All of my life, Gram was the foundation that I could always go to. I could always count on her love. I knew that she stood for a firm set of values and beliefs. She was a staunch Southern Baptist. She tithed even when she couldn’t afford money for the heart medications she needed. She loved the Lord and never wavered in that faith. 
Charles A. Lovel and Ethel May Copeland, probably on their wedding day...when they ELOPED!
She fell in love with Charles A. Lovel when she was a very young girl – not yet sixteen – and he was a grown man of more than twenty. She told me once that he had “the bluest eyes I have ever seen!” and when she said those words, a faint flush arose in her cheeks and her eyes lit up like stars…Grandpa Charlie died in 1955 and when she spoke to me about him, he had been dead for more than 45 years – and he still made her knees weak.

When my Gram died, she was 99 years, 8 months and a number of days old…and the last thing she said aloud was “What are you all doin’ here?!?” We were all to have flown down for her 100th birthday celebration and she couldn’t understand why we were there early…but she didn’t quite make it to 100. She died in February 2005, just four months shy of her birthday…but her legacy lives on in me, in my sisters and brother, my nieces and nephews. and even in my great-nieces and nephews. Gram taught me how to find food wherever I am – which weeds are safe to eat, what wild celery looks like…and how delicious fiddlehead ferns and watermelon berries taste when you’re out walking in the Alaskan woods. Gram would fly up to Anchorage every summer and spend the whole summer with us on our homestead at Sherman. For the first few years, she refused to wear pants…until the mosquitoes chewed her skinny ass to bits. Then she wised up and allowed that perhaps the Lord would permit her to wear pants. After that, she expanded her wardrobe to smart slack suits. She worried about our souls, so one summer I told her that I accepted Christ as my savior, just so she would be reassured…but I loved her so much that the truth of it wasn’t as important as was her peace of mind.

So what legacy did my Gram leave to me? Well…I was the one who would sit with her and ask questions about who married who, and who had how many children and where did they live…I became the family genealogist. We’re a scarce breed, we family historians. There generally is only one born per generation, if you’re very fortunate. Sometimes several generations are skipped. My family, like so many, has its own share of demons and Things We Don’t Talk About…but we genealogists, we want to know ALL the stories. Like my Uncle Glen Lovell’s illegitimate son, who was conceived before Uncle Glen went off to the Second World War. When he came back he married Angie and they had four children of their own…but there was, in the background, my cousin Terry and his mother. I believe that Gram knew about Terry, because she was the Keeper of the Family Secrets, but it wasn’t until Glen died that the rest of the family found out about it…when Terry showed up at Glen’s funeral, along with his ex-wife Angie and second AND third wives…MAN do I wish I could have attended that funeral service! What a blast it must’ve been…all the skeletons tumbling out of the closets, willy-nilly…
Kate holding her brand-new baby brother Rhys
The prompt, however, asks what legacy I want to leave to MY children…I think they have it now. I watch my son Rhys and I see in him a blending of my passion and (I hope) loving heart, as he adopts the broken and hurting and helps them to heal. I see it in my daughter’s quiet intelligence and love of cats, games and LIFE. As my children interact with others, I see myself and the lessons we learned together about treating others the way we want to be treated. When my son sees a poorly behaved child in the store, and he turns to me, saying, “Mom – if we’d acted like that, we wouldn’t be able to sit down for a WEEK!” then I know that lesson was painful but well worth learning. When we made the very difficult decision to seek guardianship of our daughter, I see my legacy in the way our son stepped up to accept his responsibility for the care of his sister, when his father and I are gone. I raised – WE raised – a whole man. A good man. A Godly man. And our daughter is proof of our legacy…she is intelligent and capable, within her own limitations…and she will be fine when I am gone into that good night.

Legacy can be found in many many different things…in the appreciation of history and its importance in our lives, in the understanding of art, music and faith…in the knowledge of one’s self…in staying connected to family, even when the warts come out. Of not giving up on each other because sometimes we’re all we have…and make no mistake: my own legacy is in no small part due to the partnership I have with my husband of thirty years. He is my rock and my anchor in the stormy world in which we live. I couldn’t make it without him.
Me, Kate and Rhys...this was not the best day I had as a mother, but it illustrates legacy for me...
So…legacy. Legacy, my dear friends, is what happens when we’ve got our heads down and we’re struggling through life, just trying to keep our heads above water and not die. Our children watch us in those times too, you know…and they remember. This helps when you think you’re not going to survive whatever disaster is unfolding in your life: your children are watching – so make it a Learning Experience…

Thursday, July 28, 2016

When It Comes to My Emotions and Words...

I think about Stuff a lot - sometimes too much…One of the things that has been popping up unbidden in my head was one particular Saturday when I went to the grocery store.

At that point in time, both of my kids were small and I treasured my Time Alone in The Store. So there I was, strolling through the store, not being nagged by a child for their cookie or toy, when I came upon a mother and her four small children. One or more were in the cart and the one I remember the best – a thin little girl of about eight – was walking next to the cart. I thought to myself that she looked so very sad…so maybe I could help perk her up a bit. I said to the girl, “You must be such a big help to your mom!” The mother’s response seared my brain forever. It was just two little words. Three whole syllables. One wouldn’t think that those two words could hurt so much…The mother looked at her daughter with thinly veiled contempt and said, “Not really.” That was the extent of the conversation…and I have been sad for that poor girl ever since.

What I wanted to do was to rip the mother’s head off and shove it so far up her…you get the idea. I wanted to scream at her and ask her how she could be so unbelievably cruel. All of these things went racing through my head as I stood there, dumbfounded, as the mother walked away with those four children. I think of them often and I wonder how many of them wound up either pregnant or impregnating someone too young…and how many of them wound up being as cruel as their mother, or how many of them eventually wound up in jail because for their whole lives they were probably told how worthless their mother thought they were.

Bottom line…words hurt. They hurt a lot. Really, really, really a LOT. After that (well, before it, to be honest…but DEFINITELY after it!) I was always careful to say something positive to my kids and to the children of other moms...because words can hurt.

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, hosted by the ever-amazing Kristi Rieger Campbell of Finding Ninee.

Friday, July 1, 2016

What I Wish The World Knew...

What I wish the world day there came across my news feed on Facebook a piece about a musical. This was an extraordinary piece about an extraordinary composer - Scott Evans Davis - and a musical he wrote...with the input from the students at P94 School for Autism. Davis interviewed the students and, based on their words, wrote the lyrics and music to NEXT. The link below says better than any words of mine could ever say about what special needs children - and their parents - wish the world knew...since  Mr. Davis and the students at P94 say it far better than I could...I give you:
 "If The World Only Knew" by Scott Evans Davis

by Scott Evans Davis

Every day seems like the day before
Keeping to myself but wanting so much more
I could be a painter
Or in the hall of fame
I can almost hear them calling out my name
But when people look at me
That's not what they see
If the world only knew what I could do
They would be astounded
If the world only knew what I could do
I would be surrounded
If the world only knew what I could do
Maybe I'd be free
If they would see so there’s much more in me
I put up my guard to deal with fear
When things get too hard then I disappear
I wish I could tell them
And make them understand
Being different wasn't something I had planned
But when people look at me
They don't want to see
If the world only knew what I could do
I would be respected
If the world only knew what I could do
I would not be rejected
If the world only knew what I could do
Then I could be free
Then they would see all that I have in me
I could show them all that everyone is different
I could stand up tall instead of run away
If there was no world I'd have nothing standing in my way
And I would be still only me
If the world only knew what I could do
I would shine in glory
If the world only knew what I could do then I'd tell a different story
If the world only knew what I could do
Finally they would see 

I am just what I'm supposed to be. . .

This has been a Finish The Sentence Friday post, hosted by the ever-awesome Kristi Rieger Campbell of Finding Ninee.