The Legacy


So quiet now with Dad and Mother gone.
My task today, to call the legatees,
in places past that once shaped their lives.
To each a small bequest, "in honor of."

Expecting gratitude and platitudes
I call their alma mater, and explain-
thinking of the photo of them, so young
and earnest, in mortarboards, commencing.

Next the art museum: I remember us,
children amid the mummies and Monets.
A dignified voice (not Midwest) thanks me,
"So kind of them to leave bequests for art."

I call the hospital foundation next,
"Both doctors, he a surgeon, long ago."
I give their names. A pause, and then she says,
"When I was a baby, he saved my life."

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This Poems Story

My parents were both physicians who practiced in Northwest Ohio for forty years before retiring in Massachusetts twenty-five years ago to be near me. I always knew that their real legacies would be in the lives of their patients. Nonetheless I was deeply moved by the last call I made on the day I phoned the charities named in their wills to verify addresses. This poem tells that story. The lady in the last stanza is now forty-four years old.