Every day, as we left the house for school, my father would tell his four sons to be noble.  And when ‘be noble’ became the catch phrase of Legacy, David Pietrack knew his sons had been listening.  But what does ‘be noble’ mean?

When Abelbee says the phrase to Ajax, the bat tilts his head in confusion.  Abel explains that ‘be noble’ is how bees say goodbye. Ajax wisely responds:

“It seems it means much more

than a farewell as one walks out the door—

a wise reminder how one is to live.

No finer words in parting could one give.”

Ajax was right. It is much more than a farewell. For my brothers and me, it was a guiding light in all our lives. But being noble has many applications.

For Vallenbee, his choice to live a life of isolation and wait for his love was him being noble.  He showed self-discipline, loyalty, and patience.

For Cimberlee, her choice a life of serving others rather than selfish pursuits showed her noble qualities as well.

For Baldwinbee, being noble was humbly allowing his son to have the spotlight and preparing him to succeed. At the end of the book, Baldwin’s show courage when facing insurmountable odds was being noble in practice.

From Gwendolee, Abel learned tenderness, fellow feeling, and empathy. My favorite definition of empathy is “Your heart in my chest.”  It was this focus on others’ feelings, instilled by his mother, that saved Abel in the cave.

Rykerbee’s self-sacrificing spirit is the epitome of being noble. Noble Rykerbee certainly lived up to the Army Swarm code and the creed, ‘be noble.’

Bees are not the only noble characters in the story. The bat shows kindness and reciprocity. The fireflies caringly show love of neighbor. The squirrels open their home and show hospitality.  The mother deer shows Abel true concern for his safety. The dragonfly shows sincere gratitude. And the eagle lives up to her word.

All these qualities and more are packed in this little two-word phrase. And so, just like my father did, when my girls leave the house, I remind them – be noble.

hardcover version of Legacy by Michael Pietrack

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