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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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February 18, 2009

Legacy


After several months of handling Mom's estate, following her death last June, I'm beginning to get things tied up. The sale of our family farm will occur in little more than a month. After much thought and inner struggle, my two siblings and I agreed to sell the land rather than continue to rent it. I know it may be the right decision, but my ties to that Iowa farmland run deep. It holds so many memories for me. Memories of a rich childhood growing up on a farm, exploring the woods and watching the cycles of life and death first-hand. Memories of being poor in things (Mom made my sister and me dresses from feed sacks, which used to be prints that were regularly used as clothes and table cloths, etc.; and she cut up her old coats to make new ones for my sister and me) but rich in love and experiences. Memories of extended family gatherings and July 4th celebrations on the far—and so much more.

I'm gathering things for Mom's final income taxes and for her estate taxes. There is an enormous amount of detail to being an executor, even when there's not a huge estate. At the same time, it feels as though this is one last thing I can do for Mom (and before her, for Dad, who died in 2001). 

And so, Mom and Dad, thank you for everything. Mostly, thank you for the legacy of love and of a solid faith that you've left my siblings and me, my children and my grandchildren. Thank you for a legacy of deep connection to the Earth, to the land, a deep sense of place and geography. All of this is something I think about now: What legacy am I leaving for my children and grandchildren? And I don't mean so much in terms of belongings as in terms of faith, traditions and all of life's intangibles.

Have you thought about that lately?

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