Iowa Soybean Review editor Ann Clinton

The Last Word: Legacy of goodness

March 15, 2021

In my mother’s kitchen sits a round, oak table that’s been in the same spot for nearly 55 years. It originally belonged to mom’s great-aunt, Stella, so it had been well-loved. My mom’s maternal grandmother refinished the table for her, and it’s always made her feel close to those special women in her life. 

“My grandmother was a very giving person,” says my mom. “She was such a worker and a dear soul. She was a big influence in my life. I knew she genuinely loved me. I adored both my grandmas.” 

Mom has since refinished the table many times over, lovingly preserving memories along with the wood. It represents a constant fixture of conversation, support and stability through decades of hardships and joys. 

Mom has served thousands of meals on that table. Five generations of my family have pulled up a chair over the years, celebrating birthdays, holidays and daily life. Growing up, that table felt like home base to me. It’s where I started and ended my days. 

As a mother myself, I have maintained the priority of sharing meals together. If at all possible, my family is together around the supper table at night. I’ve added my own twist, however; one I hope my kids will carry with them into adulthood. 

Every night I ask, “What was the best part of your day?” 

Then one by one, we go around the table sharing the highlights from our day. It’s therapeutic and often hilarious. My intention is that they purposely look for goodness throughout the day and bring those positive experiences back to the family. 

When it’s my turn to talk, without fail, the best part of my day is that very moment, when we are all together. If I said that each time, however, it would be too predictable and the kids would get annoyed. But it’s true. My entire day is centered with happiness when we are all circled together. Gathering my family together makes me feel close to my mom. I feel like I know her heart. 

In this issue of the Iowa Soybean Review, we honored families who have created a legacy of leadership within the agricultural community. Each year, the Iowa Soybean Association recognizes people who have made contributions to the betterment of the soybean industry. The stories highlighted in this publication are truly inspiring. They are stories of families who are following in each other’s footsteps, altering the trajectory of soybean research, advocacy and demand. Their time, talent and overall dedication to agriculture has benefited us all. 

As I wrap up this column, my mind is shifting to what I’ll make for supper. I’m also thinking about the good things that have happened today and how blessed I am to have so much to talk about with my family tonight. And I think I’ll call my mom on the way home. 

I want to prompt you with the same question I’ll ask them. Pull up a chair at the virtual kitchen table and tell me, “What was the best part of your day?” 

Stay well, my friends.

- Ann

This story was originally published in the March 2021 issue of the Iowa Soybean Review.