I can't sleep. Maybe it's the full moon. Or maybe it's the overwhelming recollection of my grandfather's scent...Old Spice and cigars. I remember the awkward kisses I felt obliged to give, a secret obsession with stubbled scratch I would receive when my cheek brushed his. He was the only grandparent I ever knew. Yet, I hardly knew him at all. Regardless of the countless holidays, birthdays,and celebrations my cousins and I all spent having at his home, he remained an elusive man to us. As a child, I could never determine if he was pleased by the constant invasion his four children and their many offspring made on his home. But reflecting back, I realize he must have been a very lonely man. And although we brought chaos and disorder to his routine, we were probably a breath of fresh air. His wife, my grandmother, died when she was 42 years old, cancer taking her life within months of her diagnosis. He never remarried.
The place us cousins spent the most time at my grandfather's home was in the guest house off the pool. The entire back wall was lined with marbled glass mirrors. The old carpet was patterned red and in the middle sat a pool table. But the real magic was found in the closet. Within its doors, hung pieces of my grandmother, her old clothes. I never understood why they had been reliqued to the guest house but I never did complain. It was my greatest fantasy, imaging her. Her smell, her movements, her smile. Who she would have become if she had lived? Would she have brushed my hair and sang me songs? Or would she have sat outside in the double lounge chair with my grandpa, stone-faced smoking cigarettes? I would like to believe the former. It is a happier reality to have.
He never spoke of her, but I suppose he didn't speak of much. The strange part was, neither did her children. I don't recall my mom or aunts and uncles ever telling stories of her. Her legacy never passed down. What can I tell you? Her name was Harriet, they called her Hattie. She was a strong and empowered business woman, way ahead of her time. She was beautiful, but a sadness sat behind her eyes. She died too young, leaving four children motherless. That is all I know. How tragic.
What if I die young? What if it is left to my children to prematurely pass down my legacy before I am even done creating it? If it ended in this moment, what would I want them to remember me by? Big questions. So many answers. Mostly, I think I want them to remember that I was a truth teller. That I, as their mother lived an honest life and that reflected on them to do the same. Sometimes the truth is beautiful. Sometimes, the truth sucks really bad. But always, the truth sets you free. And I want my children to always be free. Free to be who they really are. Free to love and be loved.
My friend Kimberly posted something recently that read, "Mothering is partly the daily practice of living my own life, so that my children are free to live theirs." I hope that my children can not only understand my need to live my truth, but come to appreciate it, and ultimately, pass down the legacy. So today, I vow to be true to myself. True to my greatest desires. True to my biggest dreams. I vow to live always in truth, which really is just love. Love for me, love for them, and love for you.
And although I may never know the truth of my grandparents, I can trust that deep within me, their unspoken legacy lives on.