Tragedy & Triumph

Defining a Legacy


My children were not born with silver spoons in their mouths.

Instead, I gave them something far finer: I slipped books into their tiny hands. It was their legacy. My love of reading was given to them during those early, formative years, and thankfully, grew within them into their adulthoods.

Books were always around. Swaddled in a blanket, each infant was propped up against my lap as I sat in a rocker, watching and listening as I read my favorite children’s books. As they grew into toddlers, they curled against me and pretended to read, babbling away and patting the pages as I read.

We visited libraries and bookstores as much as possible as they grew older. Instead of buying dessert after a meal at a favorite restaurant, we walked to a bookstore and bought a book. For years, a box of books at Christmastime was one of their favorite gifts. I don’t know who had more fun: me collecting the classics, adventure stories, fantasies and nature books, or my children reading them. I used to find them huddled under blankets late at night, the light from flashlights outlining their silhouettes.

A legacy is something you leave behind for future generations. Something you’re known for. Something you think is so important, you’re willing to lay your name on it. Truman Haden fell into a legacy – that of his father. Regardless of familial sentimentality, Truman is a man of his name, and as such, wanted to do what he needed to do to fulfill the last wish of his father.

But what happens when one man’s dying wish – his legacy – conflicts morally with another person’s life? What is more important: maintaining your integrity, or upholding the family name? These questions, and so many more, are what Truman struggle with in Tragedy and Triumph. What would you choose to do?

I didn’t (and won’t) leave my family with a moral dilemma when I leave this life; I left them the written word. I’m not at all certain what will happen to my young grandchildren with the advent of e-books. How will they feel that intimate connectedness, that wonderful symbiosis from paper and inked words? I don’t know for sure and it worries me. But for now, their bookshelves are filled with messy piles of well-read books. It’s my legacy to them.


2 thoughts on “Defining a Legacy

  1. When my grandchildren were toddlers, they, too, were so excited to crawl into my lap and “read” a book with me. When they were in elementary school, they went to the library multiple times a week, returning laden with books they devoured. Now that they are in junior high and high school, a couple of them recently commented, “I haven’t read a book in months.” The boys, particularly, spend their leisure time playing electronic games, sometimes connecting with other youths around the world. They contend the games are intellectually stimulating, but I am hoping this activity will be a fad and they will soon return to relishing the written word. Do any grandparents or parents have techniques to recommend to lure them back to reading?

    • Hi Joan,

      I’m saddened to hear that your grandchildren, like so many, have been drawn away from the written word and into the world of electronics. It could be a phase, of course, but it’s important to remember that as times change, so does entertainment. Perhaps they won’t curl up with a book in front of a fireplace with a mug of tea, but maybe they’ll pick up an ereader and catch up with a story on the bus?

      My greatest advice would be to lead by example! Read with them, or in the same room with them, and dialogue about what it is you’re doing. Find books that might be of interest to them, and offer to read it along with them. It’s important to not demand a child/teen read – we all know that will crush their desire to do it. I wish I had a better answer for you. Here’s hoping others will respond! In the mean time, I’m looking for advice for you!

      What kind of stories did you enjoy as a child? What kind of stories do you enjoy now? Maybe that could be a clue for you.

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