When I chose to tell the story of my grandmother’s accident on horseback high in Rocky Mountain National Park for a first sample book in a Legacy Story series, the choice was a practical one. I had photos. I had my grandfather’s account of the story from his newspaper columns. And I knew it was a life-changing event in their lives. Slam dunk.
What I didn’t know would happen was that I would meet my grandparents. Of course, I knew them as old people. My grandfather was my hero, a journalist in Topeka, my hometown. But he also was crotchety, I’m sure as a result of his emphysema. My grandmother was a kind woman, riding through life with a difficult husband.
But reading this story as my grandfather wrote it soon after it happened, I had the privilege of meeting my grandmother as a vibrant younger woman. I could draw near her as a friend—one inspiringly full of life! And I had the privilege of seeing the great love and appreciation my grandfather had for her. After this accident he wrote her love letters on her birthday and their anniversary for the rest of his life.
Here is an excerpt from A Million Hands. The title comes from my grandfather’s sense that a million hands came out of the darkness on one terrifying night to meet their needs. In this excerpt, before the accident, they are arriving at Lone Pine Lake with friends, on horseback:
“[Norma] was down the path to meet me. I was probably fifteen minutes behind.
“’Jump off, Arthur,’ she said. ‘I’ll take care of your horse. We’ll feed him and water him. Now get into your boots, put your fishing rod together and get out in the lake. I want to see you make a fine catch today.’
“Her face was aglow with the spirit of the day, with the invigoration of the altitude, with the happiness of living.
“And her thoughts, always first, for me….”
This particular Legacy Story is a treasure beyond my expectations, because it gave to me my grandparents in the prime of their lives. I’m encouraged that Retelling clients, with their own stories in the Legacy Story series, will also discover their forebears as marvelous “friends.”
Copyright © 2013 by Mary Beth Lagerborg