What Do You Leave Behind?

Note to Grandma

The most interesting take away from the book I just returned to the library is what I found inside.

The intelligent writing sparked my imagination, but I didn’t fall in like, let alone in love, with any of the characters except the three who weren’t even in the novel.

The small drama in chapters three and four didn’t hook me enough to abandon my own life for theirs. I flipped ahead, and a thank-you note slipped out of the pages onto my couch.

The personal note within my reach did not belong to me, but it brought itself honestly into my home.

I examined it.

The raised pattern that covered the front and back of the card felt almost like a brocade cloth. The “Thank You” lettering was printed, not embossed; the sender probably took this from a boxed set.

Should I open it?

The receiver, who most likely used it for a bookmark and inadvertently left it in the book, surely didn’t intend to share it publicly.

I couldn’t resist.

Inside, two writers addressed two handwritten notes–one on the top inside flap and the other on the bottom flap–to Grandma.

The gratitude for the “fun money” Grandma had given them as a remembrance of her own anniversary, the dreams of these young people who planned to spend the money on a trip to France and the expressions of memories and love for their Grandma hooked me. Even though they marked the end of nearly every sentence with an exclamation point, their consideration for her gift felt sincere.

I appreciated their thoughtfulness; Grandma must have, too.

Should I keep it?

After I snapped a picture–to remind me–I placed the card in the book and returned them to the library. Maybe Grandma will remember, too, and go back to find it. Or maybe another patron will glean something from what these additional characters left behind.

We’ll never know.

What I do know is how sure I am that our mark on life is left behind in small ways such as these that are simple, seemingly inconsequential and represent a sincere reach beyond ourselves.

I’ve heard many complain of the pressure they feel from the outside to do and to be. Just this week, individuals in multiple corners of my world expressed feelings of being overwhelmed. That negative pressure exists, but we can overreact to it rather than proactively choosing for ourselves.

Some of us react to it by isolating ourselves and not participating; others of us pull back in the small, considerate acts of life rather than evaluating or foregoing more time-consuming commitments; still others become bitter and poison any new offering with criticism.

Any of these reaction to our modern, overflowing lifestyles prevent us from actively living in a way that will leave much of the goodness of our lives behind.

That’s not society’s fault, that’s our choice.

But before we berate ourselves again, using our guilt to justify our reaction . . . Let’s choose a path wisely–to be aware, listen, and respond to people and unspoken needs.  Even when we don’t know what we’ve left behind, our character will be known on someone’s pages.


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