Every two weeks, the blogosphere comes alive with something called a Blog Off. A Blog Off is an event where bloggers of every stripe weigh in on the same topic on the same day. The topic for this round of the Blog Off is "What is legacy?"
These two women were my grandmothers.
That's Marjorie Belle Pfahl-Anater on the left and Guellma Gevene Flowers-Smith-Stewart on the right. I knew them as Gram A and Gram S, although we usually called Gram S by her middle name, Gevene. When I was young I loved Gram A for her intellect and musical talent. I loved Gevene for her scrappy common sense and good humor.
Both of my grandmothers were widowed before I came along and I never knew my grandfathers.
But I knew these two and the older I get the more of them I see in me. My love of classical music is pure Marjorie and my inability to suffer fools is pure Gevene. That's legacy. A legacy of a sort.
For me, the legacy a person leaves is the story of their lives. My grandmothers led lives of high highs and low lows, just like everybody else does. Both of these women dealt with adversity, survived the deaths of children and husbands, and witnessed the enormous, tumultuous changes that defined the 20th Century.
I grew up hearing a lot of their stories and to me, those stories are their greatest legacy. Those women weren't just static characters in a photo album, they were real people. I look at that photo above and I can hear Gevene's laugh and Marjorie's "Good glory!"
I think that people live on when their descendants tell their stories and pass along their legacy. My nieces and nephews, who number in the dozens, never knew those women as the forces of nature they were. But I did. I knew them and I feel like it's my job, my obligation, to those two great women to tell their stories to their great-grandchildren.
In telling those stories, in passing along those legacies, I keep my grandmothers alive for just a little while longer. And not only that, I reinforce (at least I hope I do) that my nieces and nephews belong. In the act of telling, I get to remind myself the same thing.
As the day goes on, the rest of the participants in today's Blog Off will appear miraculously at the end of this post. Keep checking back and check out everybody's postss. You can follow along in Twitter as well, just look for the hashtag #LetsBlogOff. If you'd like more information about about the Blog Off or if you'd like to see the results of previous Blog Offs, you can find the main website here.