Legacy Work is working with your late loved one’s papers, artifacts, history etc… Like pulling family photos together, cataloging your loved one’s art or other collections, archives, or, like today, all but finishing cataloging my mom’s poetry. I’m adding the electronic copies to the spreadsheet, having gotten all the loose paper versions entered. There are electronic poems that have no corresponding paper copies. I’m up to 70 unique poems so far. There are still two books of poetry she created in the 50’s/60’s yet to go through.
I also came across a file of correspondence between her and a dear friend from her undergrad days. This person was certifiably brilliant, both in the fields of literature and science, indeed taking a PHD from Stanford in an esoteric science after a stint in the Army in the 50’s. I have rather a lot of his poetry, letters between him and mom, from him to another mutual friend of his and my mom’s, and my mom’s 4-page copyrighted synopsis of his life, which ended tragically in a shallow grave after two bullets to the back of the head quickly dispatched him. For three years no one knew where he was. He took a flight to the mid-west for a job interview and was never seen again. Long story short, the person who, in today’s terms, stole his identity (and killed him), was caught three years later, and sentenced the year after that. Articles to that effect are also in this file.
I knew mom’s friend when I was a child. Until I was a pre-teen actually. And when he suddenly stopped visiting I asked mom where he was, when we’d see him again. She was elusive, as she should have been. I only got to know the full story as an older teen. Reliving it today, in the greater context of their friendship, scholastic community, which morphed into a life-long community that I am a child and inheritor of, and dipping into some of their letters (oh my gawd, could they write!) put me in touch with what a profound loss this was for my mother. Not her first and not her last. I found myself full of empathy for mom, and perhaps more informed about what might have inspired some of her poetry.