My mother has a habit of checking locks twice. I laughed at her when I was a child. Why must you do that? She didn’t say why, but I knew it was important for her to be sure. I believe it is difficult to build a life when you start from empty rooms; building a home is even harder. Double-checking a lock is a small price to pay. I never understood it and made a joke when I could, however. When you are a child, you rarely think of these things, so I did not comprehend them. Until I was older and many years had passed. On a regular evening, I left my apartment and walked to the elevator to call it. I was sure I had locked the door, but the doubt had settled in as the display next to the buttons counted to seven. I walked back to the door. Indeed, it was locked, and I chuckled. When I returned to the elevator, someone called it to floor ten. But it did not matter, and so, I waited for it to count down to seven, knowing my life was still safe, and which was more, I understood my mother more than ever before.
And my father often jokes about how he was always a decade too late when it came to understanding things. It is a joke, but most humour stems from some reality and, if nothing else, from some thought. Knowing the story of his life, or at least the parts he lets on, I could often place where the joke came from and where it got reiterated enough for him to claim “always”. It is a heavy claim: always. We use it casually and quite unjustly if you ask me, but since he used the word, I believe he did mean it. How could someone as smart as him be so tardy in understanding things? I spent years with the question lingering. Until, in a December, unlike this one, I realised everything I knew to be true was, in fact, incorrect. That what I thought of myself was, in fact, incomplete. That day, I sat at the coffee shop smiling. I learned that the smartest of men have the largest of blind spots; intelligent as we were, we were not among the smartest.
We, my brother and I, did not have much money growing up, but we had the fastidiousness of our mother and the patience of our father. We were going to be okay. Legacy, as it turns out, is often a simple realisation.