My husband’s maternal grandfather was hump pilot during WWII. The Hump Pilots were a group of pilots that flew supplies over the Himalayan Mountains to our troops. It was a dangerous and inspiring story that was documented in Life magazine. I have seen the magazine tucked neatly away in a manila envelope under a pile of yellowing photo albums. He was an aviator pioneer. He was also written up in an aviator magazine; yes it is also tucked neatly in the same manila envelope. He broke ground where no ground existed before. He placed the footprint of his life in the clouds. My maternal grandfather, on the other hand, worked for the railroad. He moved to Colorado from West Plains, Mo. after starting his family. He would eventually watch five of his children die, but eleven of them would grow into adults. The footprint of his life was never written in a magazine but came to fruition through the large, juicy, tasty tomatoes of his garden and the bright, polished stones from his massive rock collection.
The footprints I leave on this world are not visible to me; for I am too busy moving forward to figure out what I am leaving behind. My mother used to say that I was like a motor boat with a large wake. I moved through life with little knowledge of the damage I left behind me. She wanted me to pause and take my brothers into account when I was making decisions. She was probably the first person that pointed out how my actions affect other people. I think we each have some knowledge that this is true but we often forget.
I do not think I need to spend too much time looking back at my life but I do need to be conscious of how I choose to live right now. If I live courageously, I will leave courage. If I live with love, I leave love. I leave what I live. If I live in chaos I leave chaos. I am becoming more and more aware of how my actions affect those around me as I age. I choose each day to live in peace, to appreciate those around me, to honor the many teachers in my life and to appreciate the beauty that is all around me. I fail sometimes, but it gets easier with practice and I have found that God is quite forgiving of my failures. He usually gives you another day to try again.
What is my legacy? Ask my grandkids. I may never know how many lives I touched. I may only be the memory of a juicy tomatoes or a story in an old dusty magazine, but that will only be a snap shot of my life as it is for my Grandfathers, for they were loving, kind, generous people who like me forged ahead with life, living it the best they knew how. They loved, and laughed, and lived life to its fullest. I plan to do the same thing!