"The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it." ~ William James
I have been thinking about this. My grandparents left behind stories and legends. My grandmother carefully documented my grandfather's stories and respectfully saved them over the years. He was not only a sculptor, he was actively involved with the community he lived in and with the Native Americans in his state. Both of my grandparents left a mark on me, eventhough my grandfather died when I was 6 months old. I have always felt like I knew him! He passed on to me his love of nature, he passed on his handmade swing (it is out of the family, but exists on the porch of the house he built so long ago)...I sat on that swing as a child and looked out into the yard and onto a large man-sized rock which was covered in roses and under which lay his ashes...On the cliffs visible from the house were sculptures of wild animals, and I would look at those as I fell asleep in summers on the screened-in porch.(After catching fireflies, of course!) He even had a bear as a pet--a bear named Cinnamon who stood taller than he. But that is a story for another day. My grandfather believed in being honest and had true character, a trait dominant in much of the family he left behind.
He was not wealthy, but at one point had quite a bit of land. He and my grandmother gave the land away long before the last survivor died. They just were not that interested in monetary gain. Somehow they got through their lives anyway! No 401K for them. Just the lillies of the field!
"Something that will outlast it"..Stories, legends, character, memories of a grandmother, widowed at 55, who spent time with grandchildren....She loved to play scrabble, checkers, crosswords. She loved to make chokecherry jam, cookies and cakes. She loved to take walks with me and we had hiking sticks. She loved lilacs. I loved her laugh. I loved the way she could comfort me just by being there and really hearing me...At her funeral my mother said, "She will be a hard act to follow." And indeed, she is a hard act to follow. I think of her almost daily and see myself becoming her in some good ways. I may never be as good a grandmother as she was, but I have my memories!
Henry James was right....and they left something that would outlast them!