|Photo by: Elena Prokofyeva
Several friends and family members have passed away recently and it has led me to think deeply about the idea of legacy. (See Part One here: http://www.pancakesandperseverance.com/2017/03/legacy-part-one.html ) I love the idea that we have a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on. I believe we can learn a lot from their stories, both from their deep faith and perseverance and in some cases from their mistakes. Story is so powerful as a catalyst on our spiritual journeys.
Today I will begin with my first story, perhaps the hardest one, about my mother. My mom passed away suddenly on February 18th, 2017 from unknown causes after a several years long battle with mental illness. Preparing to speak for her funeral, I thought back on her life and her legacy. My relationship with my mom wouldn't fit neatly onto a Hallmark card, so in some ways it is tough to think through what her legacy was and is. But, as I dig deeper, I find that several things stand out about my mom that will live on long after she has passed.
First of all, my mom raised us the best that she could. Isn't that all you can really ask for from you mom? My mom loved hugs. She hugged us in the morning, when we came home from school, and whenever we said hello or goodbye. She made sure we had food and clean clothes and a neat and pretty home to come home to. We didn't eat too much candy and we had a strict bedtime every night. We would eat dinner together as a family and enjoy stories of my parent's growing up years and the story of how they met each other disco dancing. My mom taught us by example that no matter what you are going through, you can get through it with a sense of humor.
My mom's faith legacy will live on in our hearts. She brought us to church every Sunday, rain or shine, sickness or health. We were dressed up and shined up and excited to be there. Church was a positive experience for me and I credit that in part to my mom.
My mom loved Bible study. She loved fellowship with other women and encouraging them in their daily struggles. I remember her walking a friend through her battle with cancer and talking to us about her Bible study friends. She also led our church's Fellowship Committee for a time and helped to create beautiful coffee hours and receptions for the church. Her example of faith and commitment to the church and to fellowship was an example to me of God in the flesh.
I recently received a sympathy card stating that I, as her daughter, am her legacy. That struck a chord with me. My mom's main job for most of her life was raising my sister and I. Now that she has passed, I would agree that we are her living legacy. She has passed on to me her love of music, dance and writing. Her love for the beauty of flowers and decorating. Her love for the Lord.
It's a big job to be someone's legacy. I want to emulate the things she did well and to learn from the things she did not. I sometimes worry that my mom got stuck in the process of motherhood and never really moved on to other things after we were grown. She didn't always remember to have a life outside of it, to be her own person as well as our mother. From this, I will remember to do these things. To be the best mom that I know how to be, but also to be my own person. To be who I am and to be it boldly. To love with abandon, to live creatively in my context and to push beyond my limitations to reach for my dreams.
Her legacy will live on in my life and I will continue to unpack just what that means. For now, I will remember to love and to laugh as we did together while watching Jay Leno and eating ice cream in front of the television.