There’s this great song by the Annie Moses Band called “Love’s Legacy” about their great grandmother (and namesake) and the legacy she left behind for all of them. It speaks of how the little choices she made filtered down to benefit them even though they never had the chance to meet. Every time I hear it I can’t help but reflect on the legacy of those who have gone before me and recently on the legacy left behind my own precious grandmother.
It’s funny what indelible marks are left behind by those we love. Some are quite obvious and expected, after all I have my grandmother’s brown eyes and square face, genetics made sure of that, but I never appreciated these things until they became a tangible connection to someone who is gone. It’s even more strange to look at a picture over 100 years old and see my childhood face staring back not from my grandmother but from HER mother. I love the beauty of these little legacies but what about the unexpected ones? The likes and dislikes you never realized you picked up? The talent and skills that seem to follow the generations? Or simply the wisdom that was provided to you that you will pass on?
In the year since her death, my grandmother’s legacy has become more and more apparent. And while, at first, these memories made me sad, I now can look lovingly on what she left behind for me. Obviously, her most impactful legacy was her faith. I remember waking up in the morning when I’d spend the night and finding her sitting with her Bible out reading her “lesson” as she called it. Her faith was evident in her speech, the way she served others and her very demeanor. As I sit most mornings in the same room reading my Bible, I can’t help but overflow with gratitude for the woman who raised my mother in faith to raise me in the same. I learned through her life that good or bad, God is faithful and you can praise him regardless of your circumstances.
My grandmother was also a great storyteller which is something I never realized until I was older but oh how I loved to hear her nursing stories from the hospital or the ones of her family during the depression or even the ones she made up about the little deer in the painting above her bed running late for church. That was a favorite that she told me for years when we were going to sleep on the Saturday nights I stayed over.
I realized a while back that I use her methods of storytelling to engage and entertain my students all the time but I also used her great storytelling to entertain HER when we were visiting at the nursing home. Some of my favorite memories of the last eight years revolve around telling her all about the crazy happenings in my life. Even when she couldn’t verbally express her feelings her eyes would get big in amazement or narrow with suspicion or shine with laughter and words didn’t seem all that necessary. We were enjoying each other’s company as we had for my entire life.
She was a busy bee, as well. She was always helping with some project at church or taking blood pressures for the Joy Club or doing something for her Sunday school class. I can’t say for certain but my guess is my grandmother would be a two on the Enneagram because she was nothing if not a helper. She loved giving and doing with the skills God gave her but she also seemed unaware of how important these little tasks were. That’s the big take away for me. I love volunteering, especially at church, and I learned watching my grandmother that God gives us all skills to be useful, we just need to find where we are needed. The little task that seems so simple to you may seem like a nightmare to someone else or may solve a problem that someone else can’t fix without you. To her, taking blood pressures and checking blood sugar was nothing but to the other members of Joy Club she was providing information they needed to know about their health and wellness. Her ability to design and sew banners for the Easter program required about as much effort to her as hemming a pair of pants but to those designing the program, her abilities were a God send. I’ve learned to appreciate the talents God has given me and to use them to their fullest to bless others. My grandmother helped change my perspective on all the ways you can praise God through your talents. Yes, even sewing a shepherd costume or painting a backdrop can be an act of worship.
Anyone who knew my grandmother knew she was a whiz with sewing and I always enjoyed watching her create with incredible talent and resourcefulness. It seemed that no problem was too difficult for her to solve if she put her mind to it. Her love and abilities inspired me to take a clothing class in high school and she gave me my first sewing machine which is a treasured possession but it is nothing to the sewing machine I inherited from her! Oh, to sit and create at the very seat that, to my childhood mind, was enchanted, is something so special that my heart overflows. She also taught me the beauty and art of resourcefulness something that I feel is dying out. Many a Tribe play, Homecoming week and SMAK production have my grandmother to ultimately thank for their success because it is through her that I gained the confidence and ability to create magic out of nothing.
Looking back, I can’t help but think of the silly small things she left to me as well… A ridiculous love of British television, particularly Grace Brothers’ own Mr. Humphreys. A passion for reading books and more importantly collecting bookshelves worth of them. Her love of music and the church choir which she passed on to more than just me. Even her Saturday night beauty regimen that I watched so diligently as a child has become a favorite activity of mine. The older I get the more I realize I say things that remind me of her or mimic her motions unintentionally. I must say I see this in my own mother as well. It’s both aggravating and amusing but I’m so thankful it occurs because it shows how important she was to all of us.
As the years go by I pray that I won’t forget these little testaments to the life she lived and I pray that the legacy I leave behind is half as wonderful as my sweet grandmother!