Last time Mom visited at my house, around eight or so years ago, we shot down a tree with our .22 rifles. She hadn’t been target shooting in I don’t know how long, so I pulled out the rifles and some paper plates and tacked one plate on some sort of tree that was growing between two others. It was a sapling, really. Just two-three inches in diameter. Mom was a bit rusty, making some wild shots before getting the hang of it again, but it wasn’t long before we were in a heated contest over who hit the most bull’s eyes. By the time the tree split and fell over, we were about tied.
What most folks don’t know about Mom is that she was a sharp-shooter when she was young. At one point, she split a sheet of paper in half. Her date at the time hung the paper, slim side toward her, and dared her to shoot it in half. She did. When Dad took her to meet his family, he bragged on her eye. Granddaddy was the ol’ “Prove it!” type. They mounted a penny in a crack in the fence post, and stood clear for her to shoot. She brought the .22 to her shoulder, drew a fine bead, and shot a hole through the middle of the penny. Granddaddy kept it on his key chain for the rest of his life.
Whoever has it now–if they still have it–doesn’t have a clue about the history behind that penny.
Grandaddy died the day before I was born, roughly six years after this event. Since Dad was the youngest in the family, most of the witnesses of Mom’s sharp-shooting have passed on. Dad’s gone now. Mom was an only child, and I’m the only living child in our family. After I go, there won’t be a living soul who cares that at one time my mother could shoot a hole through a penny or split a page of loose-leaf paper in half.
So what does this have to do with Joy DeKok?
She wrote a book, Your Life a Legacy: Explore and Record the Times of Your Life. In it, she recommends that we write about our lives, the good and the bad. Like she says, including the bad also is “sort of like whole-grain bread. If the whole kernel is ground into flour and then baked into loaves, we get a healthier sandwich.”
Joy’s right when she says, “families have at least one box full of photographs. Unless there are names written on the back, you don‘t know who they are, let alone what role they played in your present. Does that mean their lives are without value? No, but it does mean their stories and the priceless lessons you could be learning from them are lost. Without a written record, their Legacy is gone.”
The point of her book is for us to keep from becoming that unidentified photo in someone’s box. We have stories to tell, good, bad, amazing, mundane. From our life experiences, others can learn lessons, see a bit of history through our eyes as we live it, discover the source of certain traits they thought were unique to themselves.
I haven’t finished Joy’s book yet, but just what I’ve read of it brought a ton of memories to the surface–and standing on my back porch, shooting down a sapling with Mom, is one of my favorites.