a parent of one’s father or mother; a grandmother or grandfather
a legacy of cards, jokes, clocks, lunch, tires, cardboard, and snacks
A legacy of cards. Solitaire was a favorite, but the fast paced Dutch Blitz (a Lancaster County special) didn’t slow her. Her passion of cards made babysitting nights something to look forward to because when homework was finished and pajamas were on, the cards came out. It was often hard to keep up with her flying hands across the table; our minds barely processing the order of cards while she was already throwing out her last one with a yell of “Dutch Blitz!” Amidst the confusion that is now setting it, I was thankful for the moment at my cousin's recent wedding when she looked at me and called me "LeLe" like she used to when I was little.
A legacy of jokes and clocks. Standing in a doorway, he could pretend to grab his own neck like it was a monster arm better than anyone else; sending us into a fit of laughter every time. His attic was magical; filled with the ticking of clocks waiting to be worked on. We would sneak in and climb the steep stairs like we were sneaking into the workshop of Santa himself. There was so much to look at and he would always take the time to show us.
A legacy of lunch. Do you want to go to lunch? It was always the question when she knew I'd be home from college. I'm thankful I was able to say "yes" as many times as I did before we lost her unexpectedly. Food was a huge part of her life; evident in the elaborate and detailed meals she would spend hours on every Christmas Eve. We always anticipated that evening almost as much as we anticipated Christmas morning.
A legacy of tires and cardboard. The tires would appear in our front yard, ready to stack and climb and make into a million different games. Being the owner of the local tire shop had it’s advantages to our makeshift playground imaginations. While he was not a refrigerator salesman, he had the hook up there too. Huge boxes with arrows and “this side up” would appear next to the tires; ready to be turned into houses and spaceships. They would be cut apart and attached to the back of his lawn mower with rope; hours of fun as he pulled us around the empty plot behind his house. We would whip through those insect-filled weeds until bugs were plastered in our hair and teeth.
A legacy of snacks. There was never any shortage of snacks in her pantry. Crackers, pretzels, and those amazing sugar-coated fruit gummies. While she was always staying ahead of the risk of a snack apocalypse, she was also ahead of her time in many ways. When I called her to tell her I was going to be getting a divorce, she simply said, “well honey, I’m sorry that you are going through this. But you are a strong woman, a great mother, and you will get through this.” If she were growing up now, I imagine she'd be advocating for human rights however she could with her fiery personality and fierce stubbornness.
Not losing any grandparents until I was well into adulthood is a blessing I’m aware not all are able to enjoy. The memories that I share with my sisters and my cousins are extensive and many. While our adult lives of jobs and school and raising children of our own may have meant not being around them as much as when we were young, knowing they were there was a place of comfort in our hearts.
As we watch the end coming and as we have had to slowly say goodbye to the giant figures that ruled our childhoods, our hearts break a little.
Their legacies live on in our memories. They live on in our middle names. They live on in the way that our own children look at our parents. And one day they will live on in the way our children’s children will look at us.