|Charcoal by Leo Gestel 1937|
not my 8th great grandfather's farm,
but what I imagine it might've been like.
Sometimes I wonder what I've done with my heritage. Have I squandered it on meaningless, time-consuming activities? Have I done anything to make life a little easier for the generations to follow? My sacrifices are so minute compared to those of my ancestors.
At this time of year, I usually think about my Mormon Pioneer ancestors, but today I'm going further back. My 8th great grandfather, Abraham. His family immigrated to America in 1636. He was the fifth generation to be born here.
Supplies were scarce during the winter. One of his sons would warm cow or ox chips and stand on them to keep his feet warm while he chopped wood. At one point, Abraham got word that the British were marching from Canada to Saratoga. Their route lay right through the settlement where Abraham lived. He had a pair of oxen and a sled (the other settlers called him "the rich Dutchman"). He loaded his wife and children and supplies into the sled and hid them in a place of safety. He went back to his house and took his gun and ammunition and started out for the Battle of Bennington on foot. By the time he got there the battle was over. That was a blessing. If he had died in that battle, his family would have starved that winter.
Abraham must've enjoyed hard, physical labor. As soon as he cleared 100 acres, he'd sell it and clear another farm.
I can't even imagine suffering that kind of exposure. I sit back in a cozy home where my biggest sacrifice might be the lack of immediate gratification. Generations later, I have comfort, freedom, and opportunities my ancestors couldn't even conceive.
I feel I owe it to them not to waste the gifts they spent their whole lives working for. If Grandma gave me her best apple pie, I would never sneer at it or push it away. I would enjoy every mouth-watering piece. I would appreciate her efforts, and she would smile upon me.
I can never repay past generations, and I think they wouldn't want me to. I think they'd tell me to leave my own legacy for those who come after me. So what kind of Legacy will I leave my posterity?
How about things like the value of hard work, honesty, staying out of debt, serving others, doing what I can to further my education, and avoid complaining about minor inconveniences? I haven't any money, or a big fancy house to leave my family. All I can leave them are good memories and a good example. That's what I need to focus my time and energy on.
What is your Legacy?