Lest you think our family is any different from yours, please understand that working in three generations only looks smooth from the outside. Inside, our family has its usual share of mishaps and miscommunications. This post was subject to one of those moments, but after muddling through to the other side, we all agree that Barb’s reflections on the following questions provide wisdom and a view pertinent to our conversation.


Photo by Digital Echo Photography

When I think about leaving a legacy…

Hmmmmm. Well dear readers, here it goes. I bring to this unlikely triumvirate the ultimate trump card – AGE. A whole lot of age. Having said that, it seems being older than light bulbs and check books brings a different perspective about almost everything in the present life. This includes dollars, donuts (Do you know how many carbs are in a donut? Sinful!), attitudes, feelings, and what passes as music these days.

So my legacy from hard-working, lefse-loving* Norwegians is singular and embedded in my chromosomes – their love of travel, yes, their intricate needlework, oh my yes, and of course, all food white, bland and boring! Plus a legacy of a stubborn streak of vast dimensions. Ancestors for generations have out-muled the heartiest beasts of the Old Country.

But as deeply rooted is a faith, a values standard, morals, and manners that have served me well for a lifetime.

When do I talk about it? Well, actually, never. The Norskes let their lives reflect who and what we have ultimately become in our daily living. But talk about it? Nah, never happen.

But am I rich in legacies? Yes, beyond the telling.

When I think about the legacy I received from my parents…

One of the legacies I received from my parents was a lifelong love and respect for learning.

My father went to school in a one room schoolhouse in Toad Hollow in Northern Illinois where his father had a homestead. Eight grades were his only formal education, but he had an innate intelligence that could solve my high school algebraic equations faster than I struggled to do.

My mother, on the other hand, graduated from college (called normal school in those days prior to WWI) at the age of eighteen.

In our family, there was almost a reverence for education. We were a reading family with books loved and shared. No TV mini series can ever rival the original joy of Pollyanna or the pathos and drama of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March. We could quote verbatim from all our favorite reads. This was a family with well used library cards from the twenty some places we lived getting to be us. Every one of us has had bleary eyes and shortened tempers from staying up far into the night to finish just one more chapter or even the whole book.

When I think of what I want the next generation to receive…

I want the next generation and all my progeny to inherit sufficiency. Enough grey cells to be ample for their tasks and needs. Sufficient skills for a complicated life. For the by-product of sufficiency is happiness.

As a preschooler, David had a beloved square of red fabric that he clipped around his neck with a clothespin as he swooped around the house. For those months I was a lucky Superman’s mother. He still bounds from tall building to tall building in single leaps. His credentials are impeccable, his accomplishments amazing.

Julia is my oldest granddaughter. She has been a joy from her exuberant childhood to her blogs from a ship off the coast of Jamaica. Julia has set the bar for the other “grands” for logic, humor, and how to live life to the fullest. We share a love of reading and knitting.

Both David and Julia have sufficiency to spare. And thus have known great happiness.

four generations

Four generations: (l-r) Julia (on lap), Dave, Betsy, and Barb. Photo courtesy of family archive.

So what can we three mini-gurus do to help you be amply sufficient for your task of creating legacies? We stand ready to begin to commence to start…

P.S. Did you know that begin and commence are the only two words in the English language with the precise same meaning? Of course you did…..giggle, grin, chortle.

* If you don’t have a Norwegian family, here’s more information on lefse and a historical pastry poem for your distraction.

Sign up to ensure you don’t miss an issue of Legacy Conversations. Next week, find out who Dave saw for the first time when he was ten years old.

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