It is appropriate, tonight, to open with words of wisdom from the late Steve Jobs, whose amazing mind has led our culture to change profoundly. Jobs gave a commencement speech at my alma mater, Stanford, in 2005—a few years after I passed through The Farm. The whole commencement speech is worth your fifteen minutes of time, believe me. It is findable on You Tube, and I have already shared that link on my Facebook wall.

Yet as I reflect about my day, I offer this quote from his address:

…since then…I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

So, if this were my last day, would this have been how I wanted to live it? Yes. Yes. When I think about what is most important in my life, and even beyond my life, I am brought back continually to my family, to my husband, to my children. I have often wondered about the sum total of my legacy. I have yet to fulfill my goal of writing something that will survive beyond a generation, and on the global scale I have not been as ambitious as some of my Stanford peers. Every once in awhile, I worry that I am not as ambitious as I ought to be, or in the “right” ways. That perfectionism thing can be a beast. 😉

Then I remember…

Years ago, I was standing near the window in my Kairos room, looking out onto the watery street below. I can only describe what happened next as an epiphany, like a decision being made so clearly that it became axiomatic at that moment. I realized that I could live a decent life and contribute in my own quiet way through close relationships with people I really loved and admired. I could teach, and like Jane Stanford encouraged, help to better society through education and great care. That was the moment I decided for certain to come home after college, to leave a legacy through teaching, through starting my own family, through passing on the farm values (farm to Farm?) with which my family had always raised me. This decision wasn’t because of grades—I had good enough grades at Stanford to get into grad school, and professors from different departments suggesting I pursue grad school in their fields. I just knew I wanted a family, and that I wanted to pursue a different path.

When parents die, it is our children who carry us on, both in memory and in gene. When I die, I hope my last day is with my family, holding the hands of my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I want to be loved in the way that my Nana is loved. I want to have the graciousness that she has at her age, her adaptability. I want to have done enough teaching—of my high school students, of my children, of whomever else rolls my way—that the ripples of what I hold dear (free, rational thought, love for humanity, the search of beauty, a positive spirit) ripple throughout time.

So, Steve Jobs, this post is partly for you. When I think of what I find truly important, it is my family and my time spent with them.

Eric was a lie-a-bed this morning, and so Katie and I had a deliciously unexpected hour of reading snuggled in her bed while the rain hastened outside. Then it was downstairs for breakfast and more books for Eric and Yorkshire tea with milk and rain and just the sound of rain and each other. Katie worked on her scarecrow tray:

I had pre-cut scarecrow pieces, which Katie colored and glued onto orange construction paper.

Then she snipped yellow yarn into “hay” and decorated her scarecrow.

We went outside in the misty morning for a little recess—it wasn’t raining at this point—and yes, we were barefoot and wild and free. We watched a trash truck, and we hung up our ghosts from yesterday’s craft session.

The haunted yard…

Then we put away laundry, dressed—it was an old college sweatshirt kind of day—and Eric got cozy and napped. Katie and I started some oatmeal molasses bread rising and finished our mise en place for our pumpkin pasta and sweet sausage dinner (which always reminds me of Rosa, who first cooked this with me many years ago). We ate some lunch, my new VS jammies arrived at the doorstep, and we delved into a handful of new books about leaves and Halloween. Cozy, cozy, cozy.

Then Katie practiced her sewing (she uses my needles and scraps of fabric), I prepared lunch for Eric. By then, the rain was really pouring. So we prepared for PUDDLE STOMPING! Yes!

My dad happened to be dropping something off at our house right in time to join us! I am sure he wondered why I was taking my children out in the nippy rainy weather, but we’re hardcore players over here, I confess!

Oh yeah, and my dad found this really neat moth (AND a praying mantis). When I held the moth, we could see how colorful the inside of its wings really are!

After playing and absorbing how beautiful the rain makes everything, the kiddos had a warm bubble bath and hot chocolate and snug jammies. We had the whole evening ahead of us, so we finished making dinner and then we made…

A lifesize Harry Potter!

Why? Because we could! If we want to turn our home into Hogwarts by Halloween, we definitely need Harry, right?

He is currently hanging in the dining room, but I think we will move him to the porch on Halloween night. We just don’t want his face to drip ink before then. His head is a picture I found online, printed out full size. I totally came across this idea elsewhere, by the way, in my bedtime jaunts around the Internet. So, once we had the head, Katie and I glued it on cardboard, and I cut around it so that the cardboard wouldn’t show.

A little hot glue later, and the head was mounted on one of my wooden hangers, positioned so that his neck actually went down into the robes. His wizard robes are one of my graduation robes. Those robes have been SO handy in all kinds of dress up projects over the years, I must say.

I don’t own a Gryffindor scarf, but I do have a red one. You know that yellow yarn from the scarecrow project? Well, it came in handy again to make the yellow stripes.

We are so pleased with our own life-sized Harry that we are contemplating making Snape, too.

I loved this day, so much.