What’s my legacy?

This past weekend, we had the funeral for my husband’s grandmother.  Grammie was 94.  She was a single mother of four; grandmother of 10 and great grandmother of 22.  Grammie lived in a tiny little community where growing up, the racial divide between black and white was the prevailing cultural norm.  Despite the odds and the hurdles, Grammie raised her children to be educated and successful.  Many of her Caribbean grandchildren lived with her through high school matriculation and then proceeded to graduate university and pursue careers in law, science, the UN and education.  Now, I don’t believe you need to have a fancy job to be successful, but when you consider the culture working against Grammie and the fact that she didn’t bow to it, but persevered in order to help her children and grandchildren to reach their goals and realize their dreams the accomplishment is fantastic!

At the funeral, words like wonderful, special, loved, incredible and precious were used.  One nephew described Grammie as a solid branch that allowed the roots of the family tree to grow strong and remain firm.  One grandchild explained the funeral as an opportunity to celebrate all that Grammie had done for our family.  One characterized our tears as the expression of our great loss.  Grammie was the matriarch.  She wasn’t a ‘grand’ lady.  She wasn’t fancy.  She didn’t have abundant monetary resources.  So what was so special about Grammie?  What was her legacy?  What did she leave behind?

Grammie loved us – each and every one of us.

Grammie invested herself in us and in our lives and in the things that were important to us.  Even as a spouse, I always knew that Grammie welcomed me and that she considered me part of her family.  (Even if she always called me Tiffany instead of Stephanie – a nickname which has stuck, incidentally :-D)

Whenever we went to visit Grammie, she would be sitting in her chair by the front window.  The procedure was that you went in, gave Grammie a kiss, had a peppermint and then enjoyed your time and her hospitality.  If the younger children were there, Grammie would gaze out the window simply watching their antics and knowing that they were a part of her.  Grammie didn’t usually say very much, but you knew that she wasn’t missing anything.  Grammie drew great contentment just from having us all around her.

No one ever left Grammie’s home hungry and no one was ever turned away.  Grammie made herself available to all of us … and our friends.  To Grammie, we were her heritage, we were her legacy.

When I think about my family, I know that I want my children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren to remember me as a woman who loved them unconditionally.  I want them to know that they were my legacy.

The love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13 has been rewritten for mothers.  I’m not sure who originally did it (I have seen a number of variations) but the message is the same…
The Love Chapter for Mothers

If I talk to my children about what is right and what is wrong, but have not love, I am like a ringing doorbell or pots banging in the kitchen. And though I know what stages they will go through, and understand their growing pains, and can answer all their questions about life, and believe myself to be a devoted mother, but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give up the fulfillment of a career to make my children’s lives better and stay up all night sewing costumes or baking cookies on short notice, but grumble about lack of sleep, I have not love and accomplish nothing.

A loving mother is patient with her children’s immaturity and kind even when they are not: a loving mother is not jealous of their youth nor does she hold it over their heads whenever she has sacrificed for them.

A loving mother believes in her children; she hopes in each one’s individual ability to stand out as a light in a dark world; she endures every backache and heartache to accomplish that.

A loving mother never really dies. As for home baked bread, it will be consumed and forgotten; as for spotless floors, they will soon gather dust and heel marks. As for children, right now toys, friends and food are all important to them. But when they grow up, it will be their mother’s love that they will remember and pass on to others. In that way, she will live on.

So care, training and a loving mother reside in a home, these three, but the greatest of these is a loving mother.
So, there it is.  My legacy.  Faith, hope and love: but the greatest of these is love.  May I love my children and my family with a love that never fails.  May I love them unconditionally, as the Lord loves me.
Thank you, Grammie, for all of the love you shared with each one of us.

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