Legacy February 10, 2014

In the days after my father died, there were many quiet moments and many stories told. It was a small thing my mother said while crying over tea that allowed me to connect these small stories of my great-grandfather, my grandfather and my father. I never realized that they form a legacy I’m a part of.


My great-grandfather was a leather

smith. He made saddles for a feudal

baron in Russia. Chased by Cossacks

into the Dnieper River, he was spared

because they didn’t want their horses

to get cold. In America, he would say,

“When in trouble, wait till you see

a way out.”


My grandfather was an out of work

printer in Brooklyn during the De-

pression. He’d bring strangers home

for dinner. When grandma would

pull him aside with “We don’t have

enough,” he’d kiss her cheek and say,

“Break whatever we have in half.

It will be enough.”


Now, my 93-year-old father bobs

inside his stroke-laden body, and

my mother shakes her head, “I don’t

know how he does it.” She stares into

the trail of their lives, “No matter what

we faced, he’d always say, ‘Give me a

minute, and I’ll figure out what to do.’”


I braid their lessons into a rope I can

use: to see a way out, to know there

will be enough, to figure out what

to do. Standing still in the river,

till we are shown how to stay

alive and give.


A Question to Walk With: Describe one story or saying that comes from your birth family or your chosen family that has shaped your understanding of life.

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