More than 30 years ago my Dad transplanted a pear tree in the back yard. He was big on organic gardening, planting trees, bushes, nurturing them to watch them flourish. Ten years after we moved from Hickory Valley, Tennessee, he drove the110 miles back to dig up a fig bush he'd left behind. It now grows near the house in the backyard. The pear tree stands 30 yards away..
Daddy lived long enough to enjoy the figs, but passed away in the summer of 1980, years before the pear tree produced. I remember him fertilizing around it and wondering if his toil was for naught.
In the fall of 2011 during my weekly visit to Mom's, I gathered three large bags of the delicious fruit. Mom also called in friends and neighbors to share in the bounty. Still, innumerable pears hung from the tree and dozens were scattered beneath it.
After gathering the fruit that day, I set the heavy sacks on the table, then turned to my mother and asked,. "Do you think Daddy ever considered he might be leaving a legacy behind when he planted the pear tree? I wonder what he'd say if he knew people from miles around wree coming with baskets to gather his pears."
She shrugged. "I don't know, but it has really produced the fruit this year.
"A gift that keeps on giving," to use the cliche'. My dad was a giver. He would be pleased to know he shared pears with his small community. Who can count the jars of preserves that have been made from that one tree?
This gave me food (or fruit) for thought. Does everyone leave a legacy behind? Whether we know it or not, something we say, or some act of kindness we show to another, could become a legacy. Who knows what kind word or deed will change another's life?
My fifth-grade teacher did not live long enough to learn she'd planted a dream in my heart when she announced to the class, "One day, Laurie will become an author."I never forgot her words, but thought it was an elusive. Even so, I hid them in my heart while I married, worked at a toilsome job, and raised a child. It took a few decades before I acted on her words. But I finally did.
My desire is for the words I write to become my legacy. My prayer is the something I've written will influence and encourage my readers in a positive way. The best compliment I could receive would be to hear a reader say, "Thank you. Your story helped me through a difficult time."
And I am blessed to have already heard those words from readers.
An update on the tree: The following year, 2012, was another bumper crop for the pears. In August, before they ripened, we put Mom in an assisted living home. Nevertheless neighbors and friends were invited to gather the pears when they came in, in October and November..
The mystery to me was, the next year the tree produced nothing. It was as if an unseen hand had watched over the tree throughout the years, providing those pears for Mom and the community. But when Mom went to assisted living, that same hand let the pear tree rest because she no longer needed them.