legacy: (noun) anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor
I rubbed my hand across the familiar rust colored velvet couch with the filigree pattern of birds. The scent of my grandmother’s Thanksgiving dinner was wafting through the house. The aroma of nutmeg and poultry seasoning mixed with the scent of the collard greens was enough to make anyone’s mouth water. Photos of our family filled every available space in the room. The coffee tables, the walls and several bulging photo albums. Black Jesus surrounded by the disciples at the Last Supper smiled down at my grandmother as she sat in her rocking chair holding my new baby, Destani. Beside him was the picture every Black grandmother owns of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I imagine that the first time I’d sat on that couch my bottom was diapered. Over the years, this couch had become a source of comfort. I’d done homework, attempted to learn to knit, played Family Feud and Wheel of Fortune, studied for exams, introduced my first boyfriend, had my first labor pains, cried after my divorce and laughed – all on that couch. Darnell ran back and forth from his bedroom to check on the progress of dinner. He would stop just long enough to play with Destani for a little while, then disappear again. We were waiting for the rest of the family to arrive so that we could eat. I had arrived much earlier than the rest because I was the official family taste tester. I had earned the title because as a child when the aroma of dinner became too much, I would ask “Do you need me to taste anything?”
That morning, I had helped my grandmother pick greens and make dressing. I had peeled potatoes for potato salad (perfect cubes) and tasted the famous sweet potato pie mix. Though I didn’t like sweet potato pie, after years of experience as taste tester – I knew exactly how the pie should taste. This was our holiday ritual, she cooked – I assisted. She cooked, I tasted. Sometimes I would suggest just a little more nutmeg or sugar for the pies. More often than not, everything was perfect. These mornings in the kitchen were also filled with life lesson and most importantly cooking lessons, because I was soaking it all in. Grandma Amy didn’t measure anything, you had to eyeball it.
After the family arrived and dinner was served, we all retired to the living room. There were so many people that we ran out of sitting space. Little cousins gathered around the floor. Inevitably we began to do what we always did on these occasions. We brought out the photo albums. My grandmother was our family historian (think snap the most embarrassing picture and plaster it in the family album). She was notorious for catching you in a compromising position, like the photo she snapped of me at the beach with my swimming suit top coming down. Note to self: destroy that picture.
It was irritating for my grandmother to snap all of those pictures, at the time. It seems she was never far from either the kitchen or her camera. Grandma Amy would have never used the word, but she was creating a legacy for her children, grandchildren, great- grandchildren and so on. These days those photo albums are in my brother’s possession as he transfers the photos to digital files. And while I appreciate technology- there is nothing like holding a picture of your seven year old self decked out in your gingham Easter dress, white gloves and flip-flops at the Easter egg hunt.
I am sure you have guessed by now that a great way to create legacies for your children is to take lots of pictures. They grow up so fast, but pictures are a great way to capture the memories for a lifetime. Technology is great, we have cameras in our hands daily with our smartphones. But, it is not enough to just snap the photos, consider having them printed and framed or put into a photo album. Start creating your legacy in pictures today!