“This is your legacy,” my mother said to me solemnly, pointing at the shopping mall painting of a Russian troika dashing through the snow of an imaginary St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida!).
There is more sand in the bottom of my mother’s hourglass than in the top and, understandably, she is more preoccupied with what she may be leaving behind in a future less distant than it once seemed.
I wasn’t sure if she was referring to the painting itself, which though pretty is quite meaningless to me, or if she was alluding to the fact that her own father was born in that long-ago Russia. And, if the latter, it baffled me why a troika would remind me of my grandfather since the closest I come to associating him with a sled is the one in which he pulled my brother and me when we were four and five years old and excited to be out in the snow!
In this particular instance, it would seem that one woman’s legacy is another’s shoulder shrug.
My mother’s legacy, the one I’m grateful for and which she does not seem to recognize, is her ability to fall, pick herself up, and keep going. Both literally and metaphorically.
Through the many decades I’ve been priviledged to be her daughter (she was quite young when I was born), I’ve witnessed my mother come to terms with a marriage that didn’t live up to her expectations or commitment in a time when women were expected to just keep going. She removed her three young children from what she saw as an untenable situation and began a new life, in a new country with a new language and a new culture. She demonstrated an indomitable strength and spirit in moving forward for the good of her family and herself.
She not only survived, she thrived. THAT is my mother’s legacy. While it may not be the legacy she intended me to have, it is the one I received. The one I’m passing along for posterity.