Monday, 1 April 2013

On Legacies

About two years before Grandad died, he sent me a small packet of tomato seeds to plant. I decided I didn't have space to grow tomatoes, so I left them in my bag of seed packets and forgot about them. The seeds came as part of one of the relatively few times he and I connected with each other in his final years. Ironically, another thing I inherited from Grandad was a propensity for procrastination and hoarding, so it's little wonder the seeds lay forgotten for a while. So, when I decided to grow some veggies in the back yard space at my new home, I came across this packet of seeds and thought it would be fitting to try to grow the tomatoes this year.

Watching the seeds finally begin to grow, despite the tentative start to spring that we've had here, it got me thinking on the subject of legacies.

Grandad left behind a lot of things, including this photo of himself from when he was working in Switzerland:

And a photo of his mum and uncle as children, with his grandparents (my great great grandparents) from around 1900:

And of course this memory from shortly after my 30th birthday when we went to visit him last Spring:

What we leave behind in this world can take so many forms. I've often thought about this when I've been creating things - artwork, photos, writing, craft - and if anything I've made will leave an impact.

Earlier this year a dear friend of mine, who has supported me in some difficult times, experienced the terribly sad loss of her partner. Friends of hers who had connected with her due to her blog and artwork almost immediately reached out across the world, via this internet magic that we have, to pass a virtual hat around to collect what they could to help her with the financial burden that was adding to her grief. The response was terrific and touching and restored my faith in the generosity of people. It also struck me that the most important legacies we leave aren't in the things we make, but the things we do for others. I find a lot of beauty in the reciprocal nature of this - it's probably the closest I get to believing in karma - to think that the help given to my friend was a reflection on the positive impact herself and her partner had made on others, sometimes even in the smallest of ways.

I was watching this TED talk by Amanda Palmer today which inspired me in a similar way:

Perhaps partly because of all this introspection on the subject of the impact a life can have, I decided to stop selling on Etsy. The decision was a long time coming (in true family tradition, I put it off for some time) but I have to admit, when I finally set up the closing down sales in my shops I felt a sense of relief and release. I can go work on something else now, and it's not too late to do the things I want with my life (and, quite importantly, to figure out what they ARE!). I do feel sad to be leaving behind something I put several years into, but I'm trying not to see it as a failed venture but more as a portion of my life that can inform the next.

I once wrote to my grandad and asked him about my grandma (who passed away before I was born) and he wrote me this lovely story of how they had met.

I hope I leave something behind that will be treasured too.


  1. Touching post Catherine. I'm surprised about you closing your Etsy shops. You had a great following.

  2. Thanks Chris. I don't know if I had a following or not, but financially and emotionally, the investment I made was just too much for what I got in return, in the end.

  3. Well good luck with whatever you decide to do.

    I'm in a bit of a quandary over which direction to go myself:/