legacy - anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor
In a sentence: "His artistic legacy lives on through his fans."
My father's sister is the picture taker of the family. She has stacks and stacks of albums, boxes upon boxes of loose prints. Whenever I visit her, I spend at least a day reviewing my family's history.
My favorite photograph is of my father's parents. My paternal grandfather passed away when I was an infant. My paternal grandmother, in her 90s. In my favorite photograph, my grandmother and grandfather are in their twenties. They are both trim and taller than average - my grandmother five-nine with womanly curves, my grandfather six-three and pole-thin, a frame no amount of meat and potatoes could cling to.
My grandmother's face is a perfect oval. Her pointed chin the epitome of regality. Her eyes are enormous and haunting, her nose long and fragile, her mouth small. Her unpierced ears jut out but she doesn't seem to mind; her hair is tucked behind them allowing bold display. Her hair is thick, twisted atop her head, flowing down her back, a gardenia pinned in front. My grandfather's complexion is lineless and rich. His tiny eyes scowl from beneath an anvil-shaped brow. His nose is broad, his lips full, his hair wavy.
The coloring of their clothing is indistinguishable in the graying hues of the old black and white photograph. My grandmother is dressed in a hand-sewn, two-piece suit: a three-button bolero jacket with cuffed short sleeves and two pockets at the chest, coupled with a knee-length, pleated skirt. I believe it is hand-sewn because uneven stitching is visible in thick light-colored thread, and it fits as though it were cut for her. The lapels of a light-colored blouse drape from the neckline. Knobby tights cling to her shapely legs. Her only jewelry is a silvery watch and wedding band.
My grandfather is dressed in a dark-colored suit: pinstriped pants and vest. Beneath, he wears a light-colored Oxford shirt with one button undone at the neck. His clothes are baggy, the angularity of his boundless legs obvious against the fabric. A spindly belt is cinched tight around his waist, using the last hole. The vest has six dark buttons undone, and a single pocket on the left side. There is an outline of what I believe to be a pack of cigarettes in the pocket.
My grandmother's arms lay at her sides. Her hands are close-fisted and she is looking off to the left, perhaps at some unseen friend or relative or child. My grandfather’s arms and hands are crossed behind his back. He is squinting and staring at the person taking his picture with great interest, a sly smile on his face.
I cannot see what shoes my grandparents chose for this special occasion because the photograph ends at their ankles. My aunt tells me that they were on their way to The World's Fair in New York City the day this photograph was taken. The year was 1939. It was a year of other joys. My grandmother gave birth to my father that year, their final child, the youngest of four.
As I look at this photograph I am reminded why my limbs are long, humor sparkles in my eyes, and mischievousness lives in my soul. This is the only photograph I have ever seen of my grandparents together. I ask my aunt if I can borrow it in order to make a copy and contemplate it often. Imagining conversations with a grandfather I never got to know, his insights, his impression of these very words...
* Exercise for writers - Create a fictional character living in today's world based solely on his/her legacy 50 years into the future.