While watching part of ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ on tellie last night, which traced singer Robin Gibb’s ancestors, I couldn’t help thinking of all the ordinary people out there who get no professional help with their genealogy, me included. Yes, I suppose viewers can gain some insight into the research process, but few of us have the option of travelling overseas or being chauffeur-driven around foreign locations to track down records of our forebears.
At the culmination of the show, after Robin made discoveries concerning his ancestors, he commented that those people had made a difference in other people’s lives. It made me wonder, if after I’m gone, what legacy I will leave behind. Will I have made a difference by having been alive? And if so, in what respect? Will it be my words that impact on others? My artwork? My warped sense of humour that often encourages others to view events in a slightly different light? Will it be my genes that inspire my grandchildren to make a difference?
The above image is of a mixed media painting I did as a recent raffle prize. The young chap, about fifteen, who won it was thrilled to have something I thought would perhaps only appeal to older folk, those whose parents or grandparents lived in the area during the early nineteen hundreds, the era depicted in the painting. I was proven wrong. It’s a small thing to make a person smile, but it can produce long-lasting rewards.
Having recently turned sixty, and being officially now a ‘senior’, there’s frequently an edge of desperation to get things finished, to reach a stage of completion that is probably not possible, unless I live for another sixty years. And even then, there will always be more projects – art, writing, family, house and garden – that will inspire me, so I will never be finished, however old I am when my time comes.
When feeling frantic, I pull up short and take a breather. I pause to look at the dam – if I’m lucky a couple of ducks or a heron have come to visit. I take a wander around my developing garden to see what new shoots have appeared. At present, the blossom is opening on the fruit trees, the jonquils and daffodils are lifting their faces in the crisp morning light. I count my blessings. Perhaps it will be a physical legacy I leave, a garden for my grandchildren in which to explore and dream.
The apple tree is no more than a branched stick. I chose a Jonathan Apple because of its associations. As a child, I used to sit on the seat with my grandmother beneath the gnarled branches of the apple tree. She would pick a couple of apples and cut them into quarters, making sure there was no evidence of codling moth, and we would share the moment and the ripe and juicy apples. I doubt I’ll get to sit under my apple tree with one of my granddaughters – though, perhaps in a year or two, a very small chair will be the precursor of a full-size one, on which another adult and child can sit and wipe apple juice from their chins while enjoying each other’s company in the garden I grew.