Tag: legacy

“Faster Horses” and Leaving a Legacy

 

Tom T. Hall passed away yesterday. His passing has a me a bit melancholy, and mindful of something I wrote down about 10 years ago (the content of which comprises most of this post). The album in the picture here is one of the first records I ever owned. It was given to me by my great-uncle Lew on a trip I took as a young child to the northwest. My memories of that trip are very sketchy: I have only fleeting images within my recall. Yet somehow I remember that “Faster Horses” a time was my favorite song.

Over the years, I listened to this record over and over again, before it got put away somewhere. I still have it. In fact, I was listening to a Tom T. Hall compilation album on my drive home from work just the other day. He was a noted singer, songwriter and storyteller, and it is the stories he tells through his songs that seemed to matter the most to him. It ties me to an aspect of my own history that I find difficult to articulate.

Stories. On the back of the “Faster Horses” album, there is a letter of sorts from the singer about a sabbatical he took in the winter of 1975. It isn’t a letter so much as a collection of entries, observations, and here and there a nugget of wisdom. I couldn’t help but think of my favorite future fantasy of owning a simple house on a lake, with a dock, boat, and canoe. That really has nothing to do with the point I’m slowly working towards here, but it does serve as a backdrop for the gentle melancholy I feel at times in our present reality. The stories of previous generations seem different as each one passes through this age of “progress.” This present era seems ever more confining, in the sense that more and more we relate to one another only through electronic mediums. We live in a cocoon defined by our digital interactions and preferences. Living in such a bubble, what stories can we tell? What narratives and legacy can we pass on that can go beyond the confines of our technology? The age of progress has resulted in a tangible retreat into a false reality of being. The internet is not the real world, and too often it serves not as a bridge, but as a barrier between us and other very real people. What stories can we tell, that will enliven the imagination of our children? Technology may “connect” us to the world, but it also isolates us to the point that intimate, substantive relationships become hard to develop. It is the relationships that enrich us most, that provide us the fertile material for the story of our lives.

An Unexpected Gift: A Legacy Handed Down

 

It was in the early 1950s when Sonny and Julia met. Sonny was a lineman for the local electric utility. On their first date, Sonny wore a shirt with French cuffs, and Julia took note of it; she liked a sharp-dressed man. On some gift-giving occasion along the way in their courtship, Julia bought a matching tie bar and cuff links for Sonny. They were gold, each with a couple pieces of thick-gauge gold wire worked into a loose square knot. Simple. Elegant. Classy. After they were married, Julia found out that Sonny had only ever had the one shirt with French cuffs, and as an electrical lineman, was not much of one for dressing up, nor did he have much call for it. Still, he had that jewelry and kept it safe throughout his life.

Sonny and Julia were together for around forty years, I cannot tell the exact dates or length. They had two daughters, the younger of whom eventually became my wife.

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My son’s best man’s mother passed away this week.  Karen was quite young, and I know she was a good person.  She volunteered at all of the church and Catholic school events, she was well liked by most, had a good sense of humor and an acerbic wit. She was my ex’s best friend.  Her […]

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“It is a wise man who plants a tree under the shade of which he knows he will never sit.” — Unknown I came across the above quote in an article published years ago by ESPN magazine. I’ve tried to hunt down its origins, but I’ve only found non-authoritative sources suggesting that it comes from […]

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I’m not surprised that we’ve awakened to a gray, rainy day. Everything feels heavy and burdensome. It mirrors the dark mood that rests beneath the ordinariness of life. As I’ve tried to tune in to the beauty of another day, it is cloaked in sorrow and dread. Today we leave for Daytona Beach. Unfortunately it’s […]

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The Not So Quiet Legacy of Sir Nicholas Winton

 

On the heels of a recent post by @Jon about legacy, I read a story about a man who, at the tender age of 29, began to create a legacy that would not be revealed for 50 more years. Jon asked the question, “How do you want to be remembered? Sometimes fate answers that question for us. Even in the midst of the darkest of times, a light was shining brightly, illuminated from a quiet soul with no thoughts of legacy, who rose to the challenge of his day.

In 1938-1939, Nicholas Winton single-handedly began to rescue Jewish children from the Holocaust. He brought 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia to Great Britain, in an operation later known as the Czech Kindertransport, helping them to find new families who gave them a home.  Most of the children’s parents would perish in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. He never mentioned the children he rescued to anyone.

One day, some 50 years later, his wife, Grete, found a notebook in the attic containing the names and pictures of all the children that her husband had saved.  Grete gave the notebook to a journalist and Winton was invited to appear on a television program. He didn’t know the audience was comprised of all the people whose lives he had saved. Now adults, they came to express their profound thankfulness. When counting the 669 children that he saved, along with their offspring of children and grandchildren, Nicholas Winton saved the lives of over 15,000 people.

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Now that the election has delivered a result, and the end of the Obama administration is soon upon us, retrospectives regarding the past eight years are being offered throughout the media. Many of these retrospectives include a narrative that I find both dubious and particularly interesting: that President Obama is “remarkably scandal free.” I don’t […]

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Next Friday, November 25th, my parents will celebrate their 50th anniversary.  In those 50 years, they have been rewarded with 3 children, 8 grandkids, and 4 great-grandkids.   Next week, for the first time in a very long time, our entire family will come together to celebrate my parents.  So let me tell you a […]

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President Obama may be one of the greatest speakers of our time. Forget the substance for a moment; he nailed his speech to the Democratic National Convention in both tone and inflection. It is the rare speaker who talks incessantly of himself, and yet makes narcissism sound, and feel good. However, those of us who […]

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The Things We Own

 

imageA solo cellist once explained what it’s like to own and play an 18th-century instrument: “Many hands have played this instrument before I was born, and others, I hope, will play it centuries after I’m gone. You don’t really own it; you hold it in trust, and care for it during your lifetime.”

Great works of art are known by their artists, not their owners. A Van Gogh will always be a Van Gogh, no matter where it hangs. Lesser works, too: Tiffany jewelry will always be Tiffany. Nonetheless, although some of us are content to admire beautiful objects, many (most?) of us can be so struck by beauty that we desire to possess it, even if only for a brief moment.

Some years ago, I considered investing a modest sum in diamonds. But it seemed a shame to have them sit in a dark safe somewhere. I offered to my wife: Would she like some expensive jewelry? She said no. Investments are bought and sold; she would be loath to part with it later. Most of us are not like the actresses who borrow fancy clothes and sparkly rocks to walk the red carpet, returning the costume after the show.