Generally when we think of legacy, our minds ask, “What kind of legacy am I leaving?”
Recently I read an article encouraging us to think about what kind of legacy we received from our parents and grandparents.
When I think of the legacy from my parents, one of the first things that comes to mind is Hospitality. I knew that my friends were always welcome in our home. My mother had grown up on a ranch in West Texas. Anyone who arrived there (1910’s and 1920’s) came by horseback or horse and buggy. They were always invited for at least the next meal and often overnight. And that same hospitable spirit that Mother learned from her parents carried over into the household I grew up in. How grateful I was for that example, for it seemed that in my adult life we often had unexpected guests at our table, who also sometimes needed a bed for the night.
The next quality I think of is a strong work ethic. Both of my parents were extremely hard workers. As soon as my twin brother and I were old enough, we worked beside them. But work didn’t seem a drudgery; we had fun while we worked, and we always enjoyed the results of a finished task that we had worked on together as a family. I once said to my oldest son, “I am so sorry that we were unable to give you more financially as you were growing up.” His immediate response was, “Mom, the best thing you ever gave us was a good work ethic. I can take that work ethic and make the money I need.” And he did take that trait successfully into the third generation.
Giving/sharing/unselfishness were traits that just seemed to come naturally in our household. We never had a lot, but we always had things to cheerfully share with others. Combined with those traits were resourcefulness/talents. From having lived through the depression and WWII, my parents knew how to use what they had (Of course, everything was saved.) My dad, as a young child, had learned at his mother’s knee how to knit, crochet, and even tatt. As a young man he also worked with a tailor; therefore, both of my parents knew how to sew—something I learned from them when I was about 12 years of age. My dad was artistic and also a “jack of all trades—master of none”. He was the one who taught me not to be afraid to try to do anything you wanted to.
Laughter was an over-present sound in the household, whether it was at the dog who was such a clown or at ourselves. Mother and I never tried to move a heavy object together without for some odd reason always bursting into giggles. One good friend said that when she thought of my parents, she thought of smiles. Another described my mom as having “laughing blue eyes”.
The most important legacy my parents passed on was their Faith. Mother and Daddy had been married seven years and were not sure they would be able to have children. They prayed as fervently as Hannah in the Old Testament prayed for her son, Samuel. From birth my brother and I were told that we were an answer to prayer and were taught about God’s love for us and how to love God in return.
On my grandmother’s 90th birthday I remarked to her that I thought her family had such an unusual life span. All of the five children were still living, with ages ranging between 80-90.
Grandmother’s immediate response was, “The Scripture says to honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long on this earth, and we did.” It was plain to her that because of her obedience, God faithfully kept his promise.
The Christian principles that guided those two generations guide me to this day. What a legacy!