A Legacy Worth Leaving
My garden is exploding with color. My first instinct is to call my mother and share my joy of summer blossoms...then it hits me again - she's gone. I have this thought a dozen times a day. Sharing my daily pleasures with her brought us both joy. She loved life and found true delight in the happiness of others. As I began this farming journey so late in my own life, she was my farming mentor, a woman so full of experiences and wisdom and encouragement. I have pages of scribbled notes - stories about my farming ancestors, stories of her own life growing up on a farm, and nuggets of farm wisdom passed down through the generations - all shared with me by my mother. I still have so much to learn, so many questions left unanswered, so many untold stories I long to hear. But she was more than my mentor, more than a daughter of a farmer, and more than a woman that knew the ways of a self-sustaining lifestyle. She was strong and courageous and generous and loving and kind and fearless and deeply spiritual. She lived to love and care for those she loved.
As I continue to work in my gardens and care for the animals I keep, with a few years of experience now, I'm slowly getting the farming part down. But the courage and strength and generosity and love and caring parts are far from the mark. The death of my sweet mother has me asking a lot of questions about life - why am I doing this? What is the value in what I'm doing? Are passing these skills to my grandchildren all I'm leaving to them? Will this all matter after I'm gone?
These are questions I asked myself last week during farm camp. Each year Trevecca Urban Farm extends an invitation to high school and middle school students to come experience the farm and learn how to plant their own garden, how to care for animals, as well the passing on of other farming skills. This year my oldest grandson, Henry was old enough to join us for farm camp. Our time together extended beyond camp as he came to stay the week with us. Not only did he work hard at camp; at our little homestead, he helped by gathering eggs, feeding chickens, putting down mulch in my garden paths, and transplanting flowers. I hope our time together went beyond just the doing. I hope the hugs and kisses and talks and nighttime reading and game playing were all signs of my love for him. I hope he will always feel that love. I also hope he will see courage and strength and generosity and I hope my faith in God will encourage his own spiritual walk.
During my mother's stay in the hospital, I spent many nights in her room. Sometimes I spent hours just watching her monitors, hoping her body rhythms would never stop. Other times I read scriptures in the dark using my Ipad. Here's one of the passages I read - "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot...a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance." And this one, "When God gives someone the ability to accept their lot and be happy in their toil - this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart." (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4; 5:19-20) My mother experienced many tragedies during her 91 years of life, but I truly believe she seldom reflected on those painful experiences but rather chose to stay occupied with gladness of heart. Now that's a legacy worth leaving to the next generation.