Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | October 12, 2008

A Legacy of Love Notes

Each surviving book bears the marks of repeated use — broken spines, worn and dog-eared pages, random streaks of crayons, and pages smudged by the hands of young readers. I remember when these books were in pristine condition, personally delivered by a grandfather who loved to read and who understood how to harness childhood curiosity. Books — lots of them, bulging with stories that begged us to read at a time when television was beginning to bewitch children. Books that introduced me to wonderful characters like Androcles and the Lion, Alice in Wonderland, Gulliver, and others who lived in worlds beyond my own.

My grandfather, perhaps unintentionally, gave us another gift — one that means more to me now than when I was a child. In the flyleaf of each book he wrote love notes to his grandchildren. Instead of letting the blank real estate at the front of each book go to waste, he used his Sheaffer fountain pen to give the words in his heart a home on the page. I don’t know if he ever thought about what his words would mean to his grandchildren after his death, but they continue to bless. It’s interesting how ink on a page may fade through the years but how words never do.

My grandfather also wrote notes on the pages of other books in his personal library. He wrote notes about notable moments in our family history, about current events, and about other daily stuff. These brief handwritten snapshots captured moments in time and mean as much to me now as all of the old photographs in family albums. His words are weighted with encouragement, pregnant with hope, and still fertile with inspiration.

Years ago I started to do the same thing — to write love notes and to capture moments about our family history on the blank pages of the books I own. I don’t know that these little ramblings mean much to my family now, but perhaps they’ll be a blessing to read after I die. I have about 1,500 books in my personal library, so I still have lots of writing to do. I hope that you’ll look at the flyleaf of each book you own as a canvas on which to sketch something that will encourage and inspire your loved ones, both now and after you die. Never underestimate the lasting power of a written word. Leave a legacy of love notes.


  1. Omar,
    What a wonderful idea! My parents had three bookshelves and at one time I counted over 2,000 books on the shelves. By my early teens I had devoured selections by John Steinbeck, Pearl S. Buck, Leon Uris and too many additional authors to note on the page. The one deficit of my childhood education was Greek literature. I have a copy of “The Odyssey” on my shelves and it remains one of my favorites. I am reading the Theban trilogy of Sophocles now.

    But it has never occured to me to use my own library as an extension of my thoughts to future generations. Your grandfather was a perceptive man. I will work to leave that legacy of personal thoughts. smile

    Tammy Swofford

  2. As I was going through some of Mother’s things after she passed last month, I found letters I had written her 32 years ago! Yellowed and a little torn around the edges, obviously they had meant so much to her which, in turn, spoke volumes to my heart as I reread them in her bedroom.

    Yes, words do form lasting impressions upon our hearts and minds.

  3. Omar, what a delightful notion, an inspired suggestion to us all. I can only imagine the bittersweet joy in the hearts of your family some day, as they read your words – eloquent, insightful, funny, and so dear to them.

    Perhaps you’ve started something here. My library is small, and not particularly elegant, but it’s a start.

    Blessings to you.

  4. What an encouragement! My husband’s great grandfather also wrote notes in many of his books. My husband has several books from his great-grandfather, including the family Bible. It has been an awesome legacy for my husband to share his great grandfather’s words with our boys. This is such a beautiful way to pass along the baton of faith!

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