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September 3, 2008

Memories

I've already blogged about Mom's death in June and my being named as executor of her estate. What began as a process of re-doing the rental contract for our Iowa family farm has morphed into sale of our family farm. I've learned more about tillable acres, CSR points and county-by-county Iowa farm prices than I ever intended.

What's happening as my siblings and I face this prospect is that we're immersed in memories of our childhood on the farm. Although I couldn't wait to get off the farm when I graduated, I now see it as a wonderful place to have grown up. My children often tell me too how grateful they are for the solid values I learned and then passed on to them from that rural culture and our rural congregation.

My sister and I have been sharing childhood memories these past days: helping Mom prepare mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks or lunch for Dad and walking it out to the fields, then sitting with him as he took a break; playing in the large woods around the farm and imagining the space as our house; swinging in the telephone-pole swing Dad lovingly designed for us (and which he had as much fun using as we did!); raising many litters of kittens and puppies—and, of course, dressing them in doll clothes when we could hold them down enough to do that; helping Mom raise a huge garden—complete with the canning and freezing that accompanied such a venture; feeding the animals and picking eggs. That and so much more. The memories just flood back for all three of us. And so the business proposition of selling a farm becomes far more than that. It's a real walk down Memory Lane. It brings some sadness—for we really are deeply connected with that Iowa farm land. It does matter to us that someone else care for it as we did all those years (the farm has been in our family more than a century). The renter we were blessed to have the past two decades-plus has done just that. But now it's time to move on.

When you and I think about our death, when we plan our wills, when we think of our legacy, there is much upon which to reflect. What memories do we wish to leave behind? ...because preparing is more than wills, funeral expenses, funeral hymns and texts. Preparing also means living in such a way that we leave a legacy of love, of meaningful memories—a rich tapestry that goes way beyond property and belongings. (See "A life reflected" and other stories at www.thelutheran.org.)

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