I was listening to a woman on NPR the other day describing her collection of whistles. She was displaying them as an art collection for public viewing. They meant a lot to her. In fact, they were her legacy.
Her mother had died recently and so she returned to her hometown. She had been away for some time, hadn’t kept in close touch and had never paid much attention to her mother’s whistles. Left behind, these precious artifacts had suddenly become a calling, a way to honor her mother.
Her mother had been interested in art all her life. She never had time to pursue it with two kids to raise. Family always came first. But when the last child was gone, she took an art class. She had been making these whistles off and on during her whole life whenever she found the time. But now she was on a mission. She had created over 200 whistles of every type you could imagine. This was her way of saying, I am here, I am here.
After her passing, her daughter realized the value of these whistles. Not the monetary value, but the value that they represented for her personally. This was her mother’s legacy and a way to maintain a tangible connection to her. Sharing them with others was a joyful means of loving her.
It’s funny how things we take for granted become so important after someone we love is gone. When my husband died, the things he had brought into our home when we married were not things I particularly liked. In fact, we argued a little about exactly where they might fit. I was an interior designer with very strong opinions about how my environment was going to be altered. His taste was very different from mine. However, after he passed, everything we had fought over suddenly became precious to me. Within his things I discovered memories and a feeling of connectedness that gave me comfort.
I remember finding his prayer book in the nightstand one morning when I sat up in bed at 5:00 am realizing he was in fact gone. Inside I found a poem he had written 35 years prior. I had never seen it before. By the time I got to the middle of the poem it said, “If you are reading this I must be dead.” It was as if he was talking to me. From that point I went on a journey of sorts, talking to people who had known him all his life. I gained a newfound perspective of my husband. I knew how beautiful his heart was, but I did not know how many people he had touched in so many ways throughout his life. I heard the most amazing heartfelt stories of my life.
If we could only realize that things can change overnight. If we could only discover how simple life is in the midst of so much chaos. If we could only appreciate what is really important.
In the words of the writer, Robert Brault:
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize that they were the big things.”
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