Recently on All Things Heart and Home, (http://www.allthingsheartandhome.com/2013/06/12/whats-your-story/) the question was posed: “how do you want to be remembered. What is it that you hope to leave behind? And I began to think about the ending. What would I choose for people to say about me when I’m gone? What is my legacy?
When my husband died in 2005, my world fell apart. I don’t remember many things in the blur of shock and funeral planning. But, I remember walking out of the hospital room to a hallway full of friends. It was 2:00 in the morning, my kids didn’t yet know, but our friends were there. There were lots of hugs and tears in that hallway. And, I remember one friend saying “He loved you SO much!” In the days that followed, similar statements were repeated over and over. Terry loved God. Terry loved family. Terry loved the kids in his ministry. I heard from several moms how much their sons admired Terry for supporting them and cheering for them in place of their own absent fathers. I talked to hundreds of people at the wake and at his funeral, and the over-arching theme was: Terry Loved. And, he was very loved in return.
A few months ago, my dad passed away. As my brother and sister and a few of the grandkids sat with my mom and her pastor and talked about my dad, we shared laughter and tears and really good memories. I’m sure there were rough points through the years, but honestly, there were no bad memories. As people came to my parents home, to the funeral home, to the church and finally, to the cemetery, everyone talked of what a good man he was. He was a family man. He had integrity and honor. He was the “cool” dad. He loved us deeply and he was loved deeply by those who knew him.
Unfortunately, I’ve been part of less happy endings. I’ve seen ‘adult’ children do their best to slander their own father on the day of his death. Finding it necessary to bring up everything, real or imagined, that this man had done wrong. The fact that he had supported them financially and provided a home for them for many decades didn’t seem to matter. Family feuding had taken its toll. There was no talk of love. Few happy memories. The tension was palpable. Years later, the same tension was still evident at death of their mother. Armed guards were at the graveside service to make sure the handful of people who attended behaved themselves. What was the legacy? Relief. It’s finished. We are free.
I hope that my legacy is one of love and hope. That my children will be surrounded by friends and family and they will talk about all of the silly things we did thru the years.: the Houston cupcake tour, the trips to the zoo, my love of social media. I want to be the remembered as the”cool” mom, not just to the two kids I birthed, but to all the others that knew me as Mama Benson. The mom that may not have been good at keeping house or baking cookies, but was there when my kids needed me. I want my kids to know that I loved them to the depths of my heart. I want them to remember my focus on God was what kept our family going thru the best and the worst times.
When I was trying to decide what to put on Terry’s headstone, I looked for just the right statement to describe him. This was my choice: “He achieved success here because he lived well, laughed often and loved much.”
So, this is how I want to be remembered:
1. I lived my life as a follower of Christ and I hope as an influence on others to do the same.
2. I brought laughter and joy to those that came into my life.
3. I was the cool mom that loved and cared for those that were around for the ride.
What legacy do you want to leave?
Thank you Melissa. When I read this I thought of a quote I read years ago – “Everyone leaves a legacy whether intentional or not. Your legacy will be how you are remembered by those who knew you and the influence of those memories on the lives of those who knew you. Why not be intentional about the legacy you leave?”
As far as the legacy I want to leave –
1. He loved Jesus and he let Christ live through him – through his words and actions.
2. He spoke life into others wherever he went.
3. His joy and love for life was infectious.
I’m realizing that we must be intentional with everything we do. Just keep reminding myself!
I’m very sorry for your loss. I was widowed 2005 also but have since remarried. I know what a very sad and lonely time it is and how hard it is to move on on your own. Best wishes to you on your journey.