Seraphina was exhausted.
The heir announcement weighed heavily on her shoulders, and she hadn’t slept for days. Her conversation with Grainna had been a comfort, but her mother offered little in the way of actual direction. What Seraphina really wanted was for someone to tell her what to do, someone to make this impossible decision for her. But Grainna had told her to trust the fates, and seek her ancestors for guidance, and so Seraphina resolved to do just that.
Every night she prayed for an answer, and each day Seraphina delved further and further into her secret project. The plan had been put into motion unwittingly, many years ago when Sera was just a teenager. Now, so many moons later, she faced it’s culmination along with her own mortality.
Seraphina spent her final days as heir preparing for the future of the legacy she had grown to love. She recalled how resistant she’d once been to her calling, and with a nostalgic smile, acknowledged the joy that same calling had brought her.
And as she worked, lost deep in the well of inspiration, the answer came to her at last.
The day had finally come to announce the Generation 3 Hasslich heir, and while Seraphina was nervous, she was also excited – for this was also the day she would finally unveil her project to her daughters.
She called them into the living room.
Seraphina: Today is the day, my girls. I finally have an answer for you. But before I announce the heir, there is something I want you to see.
Seraphina led her three daughters down the stairs to the basement, where the family had recently built a fourth bedroom, bathroom, and a small gym. Zara looked at her sisters questioningly, but Seraphina kept walking until they reached a second set of stairs that had gone unnoticed until now.
Seraphina descended, the girls in tow, and what they found brought them all to tears.
Seraphina: This is what I’ve been working so hard on these past few days. That painting of Grandma Grainna is the first portrait I ever painted – I made that when I was about as old as you are now, Emmeline. And then I did Aunt Clarissa’s portrait, and then Aunt Esmeralda’s after that. And when my children were born, I kept up the tradition.
Zara: Mom, they’re… Beautiful! How did you keep it a surprise?
Zara looked at her sisters.
Emmeline: Look, look! We’re ALL there! Even Elliott!
Seraphina: I worked on it slowly, when you all were out of the house, or sometimes even when you were sleeping. But Emmeline gave me the idea, really. It isn’t fair that only the women of this family are remembered, or that future generations will only know the names of the heirs. When I took over the legacy, I was insecure and hopelessly shy. If it weren’t for the help of your aunts, none of you would be standing here now! We are all a part of this family, and we are all shaped and molded and changed by our relationships with each other. This legacy is successful only when we work together, when we support and love one another, when we help each other to become our best selves. Esmeralda and Clarissa deserve to be remembered, and so do all of you. No matter which of you is the heir, you ALL will be remembered, and honored forever, here in my little Hall of Founders.
There were tears now in all of their eyes, and Seraphina saw that her three beautiful daughters were holding hands. There was a moment of meaningful silence as the girls looked at one another.
Andalie nodded. As the eldest, she spoke for them all.
Andalie: We’re ready.
Seraphina took a deep breath, and directed their attention behind them. There was one more painting, covered in a white sheet. Seraphina tugged gently and the fabric fell away, revealing the third generation Hasslich family heir.
Andalie gasped. She frequently struggled with her rollercoaster emotions, but what she felt now was entirely overwhelming. She was overcome with joy – relieved her hard work wasn’t all for nothing -concerned for the feelings of her sister Emmeline – anxious about her new responsibility – and ultimately, saddened by the realization of what this meant for Seraphina. But when Andalie met her mother’s eyes, Seraphina nodded slightly and smiled.
Meanwhile, Zara was jumping up and down in excitement, thanking her lucky stars she’d been spared. Emmeline, on the other hand, was uncharacteristically quiet. Seraphina kept a close eye on her volatile youngest daughter, expecting an angry outburst, but Emmeline remained quiet as the tears welled up in her eyes. Her lower lip trembled.
Emmeline: Congratulations, Andalie.
Emmeline managed not to cry. And then she was gone.
Zara went after her, hoping to offer some sisterly comfort, leaving the old heir and the new heir alone together in the Hall of Founders.
Andalie: I can’t believe it’s me. All this time, I wanted it so badly, Mom. But I never thought it would actually be me.
Seraphina: I think I’ve always known it would be you. You are the legacy, Andalie. Everywhere you go you bring it with you, and every time you leave, you leave a little of it’s spirit behind. You remind me so much of your grandmother…. She would be so proud of the women you’ve become.
Andalie: I think she’d be proud of you, too, Mom.
Andalie looked around at the paintings in the walls around them.
Andalie: This is amazing! You made all of this!
Seraphina: And I made you, Andalie. You will inevitably face challenges and obstacles as you go forth as our heir, but whenever you feel lonely, or misunderstood, or lost, you can always come here, and know that your ancestors will guide you. Even if you can’t see me, I’ll always be here if you need me.