This editor’s letter appears in the March 2022 issue of Lake Norman CURRENTS.
In early January, the community of Lake Norman learned of the passing of Tom Clark, a Davidson College professor who eventually found his life’s calling working in sculpture. While planning an article on his work, we put a call out on our social media pages asking if anyone had a collection of the miniature gnomes he grew so famous for creating. We were overwhelmed by the responses of so many people, not only of those who still have his gnome sculptures in their homes but also those who had a personal connection to Clark or a memory of what his work meant to them.
This led me to think about legacies. When Clark first began exploring his love of art, I doubt he knew what a legacy he would leave behind with his work. The same goes for Selma Burke, who I wrote about in this month’s “Renee Wants to Know” column. Burke, who was born in Mooresville, trained as a nurse but couldn’t help but follow her heart when it came to creating sculpture, leading her to win a nationwide contest to commission a bronze portrait of President Franklin Roosevelt, the inspiration behind the image on the U.S. dime.
I’ve often thought about what legacy I want to leave behind. Sometimes I kick myself because I know I could do more volunteering or helping friends and family in need. It can be difficult to juggle work, family, social responsibilities, and the necessary downtime I need to recharge. But then I get a note in my inbox about how this column struck a chord with a reader, or my neighbor across the street stops me to say that reading these letters gave her something to look forward to while living through a pandemic. And then I realize that maybe my legacy is that of a humbler nature, that of striving to be a good wife, mother, and a storyteller who brings a laugh or smile to someone’s face when they read my work.
Creating a legacy in our lifetime doesn’t have to require grandiose gestures—in fact, it doesn’t have to venture outside of your own home or family. Perhaps you want to inspire your children by showing them how to love in the most authentic way possible. Maybe your legacy is your passion for serving in your church, school, or community, or creating a family business that future generations can inherit and take part in. There are so many ways to share our talents with others. I think the most important thing to consider is to aim to have an impact on someone other than yourself, dare to be joyful, and always strive to bring your best self to everything you do.
I hope this issue helps you appreciate your own gifts and appreciate the little legacies all around us.