On Legacies: Much is Required

Muh and daddyI’ve been thinking about my Great Grandparents, TJ “Coot” and Gertrude “Muh” Shelley, today. I think about them often. They had 12 children (or close to it) and they instilled in us (their children, their grands and us great-grands) the importance of the family sticking together. They loved each other, not because it was easy, but because it was necessary. They understood what was at stake when families ceased to care about one another. It is a slippery slope, because if you do not care about your own, then the likelihood of you caring about anyone else’s is slim to none. Unfortunately, that is where we are today. People outwardly ask, “What is the world coming to?” To my mind, it is coming to a lost generation, or generations of people with no regard for legacy. Either their legacies are so painful and atrocious that they would rather forget them, or they simply have no clue who they are culturally or familially. Lost generations–generations left to fend for themselves and find their own way–are dangerous. I have heard stories, from my Grandmother, Great Aunts and older cousins, of my Great Grandmother feeding people in her community (and with so many children they, of course, were not rich people, but they gave what they had). This is how communities were upheld back then, and this mode of community outreach cannot be outdated because we so desperately need it today. Often, when I think of Coot and Gertrude, I pray to be a little more like them: less absorbed in my own sufferings, a little better at keeping up with relatives and friends, more gentle in spirit, stronger in character, in possession of a servant’s heart. That is my family legacy, and as I have said before, changing the world does not begin with legislation or politicians, it begins with us.