In the past, my mother had expressed concern over what she had to leave for her children. I remember her being disappointed that she didn’t have a lot of “valuables” to pass on, or a large inheritance to divide amongst her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
I would try to reassure her with words like, “Don’t worry mom, you’ve done so much already.” Or, “Mom, that’s not what matters.”
Still, for my generous mother who was a child of the depression, she was worried about supplying our needs far into the future – a future that she would not be able to reach into to help solve our problems.
My mother had known depths of need in her life that most of us are never burdened with experiencing. And she survived. And she made sure we did, too. It may not have always been fun, and it most definitely may not have always been pretty, but we did it. She did it.
Even after giving her family the greatest of gifts – love and inspiration, courage and strength, she worried. Mothers worry 🙂 What kind of legacy could she leave?
A few nights ago, I found my mother’s legacy in the words of my five year old son. As I was tucking him in for the night, stories read and songs sung, it was time for prayers. What had been a nightly request for grandma to feel better had turned into a nightly request for God to tell grandma hi, and that we love and miss her. That night, at that point, shiny little tears started pooling in my baby’s eyes.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” I ask.
“I miss grandma,” he answers with the tiniest of sniffs and the biggest, bluest eyes. He looks at me, questioning. Hurting.
“I miss her, too,” I answer as I wrap my arms around him. “Why don’t you tell me something you miss about grandma?”
I smile to myself and in the milliseconds before he forms his answer, I anticipate a flood of responses. Grandma always had Tootsie-Rolls in her candy dish just for him. She and Uncle Jon always had a bird feeder that needed filling, or a hole that needed “dug” with his little plastic gardening set. Freshly baked cookies with milk in his special blue dinosaur cup. Happy memories.
“I miss her loves!” The words burst out and hang in the air, a look of desperate longing in his little face.
My heart is full of surprise and amazement at the depth and authenticity of my son’s wise-beyond-his-years words. He’s walked beyond the Tootsie Rolls and plastic shovels, Christmas presents and quarter bribery for his good behavior into the heart of the matter – into what really matters.
I held him in my arms and agreed that grandma gave the best loves.
“You know, grandma’s loves are up in heaven. That’s part of what God takes with Him when we die. So, all those loves are still there for you.”
He smiles a missing-his-first-tooth little boy smile and starts to blow kisses to heaven, giving some of the love back that had been poured in.
My mother left a legacy greater than riches or material security. She left a legacy of love that will reach far into the future for generations to come. What will you leave behind?