Reflections on Aging Well

Author, Living with Purpose in a Worn-out Body: Spiritual Encouragement for Older Adults (Upper Room) and Columnist, Aging Well, United Methodist Reporter

A New Year’s Legacy January 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — missybu @ 1:53 pm

On New Year’s Day, I was driving in the Texas Hill Country with my 14-month old grandson in the backseat. Instinctively, I reached to turn on the radio which was dialed to a local Christian music station. Unexpectedly, my eyes flooded with tears.

The song playing on the radio was the same song that had played in the wee hours of the night almost four years ago as I drove home from the hospital where my much-loved Dad was nearing death. The song was Nicole Nordeman’s “Legacy”. “I want to leave a legacy. How will they remember me?”

It’s funny how music can whisk you back to a particular place and time, unlike anything else. I remember it as if it were yesterday. It was a humid, early spring night. My brother had come to complete the night’s bedside vigil so that I could get a few hour’s rest.

The roadways were almost empty as I drove home, weary and emotionally worn. I turned on the radio and heard those haunting words. Even though I had listened to the song many times before, on that night, the lyrics took on new meaning, knowing that Dad’s long life was drawing to a close. I couldn’t help but ponder what a powerful influence his life had been on so many people, especially his family.

Now on New Years’ Day 2010, the same words swirled through the car once again. “I want to leave a legacy. How will they remember me? Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough to make a mark on things? I want to leave a legacy.”

As the tears fell, I realized they were not tears of deep sadness or grief. My Dad had lived an amazingly full 89 years. I was crying because I wished my grandson could have known him. Suddenly I was reminded that the passing of my father’s legacy is up to us—the rest of the family.

It is up to us to see that my grandson learns the stories of his great-grandfather. Of how he loved to sing the repeating bass line in favorite hymns. Of how he and my Mother sat on a pew with a funny knot hole, and how they drove for Meals on Wheels and visited lonely people in nursing homes.

I want to make sure my grandson knows all the funny stories about family vacations, campfires and fishing, and about how my father handcrafted the walking stick he plays with from wood he’d gathered on a two-month trip to Alaska. I want him to understand the significance of the name he carries and the faithfulness of his great-grandfather.

Most of all, I want my little guy to know that his great-grandfather certainly chose to love, abundantly and selflessly. And that the rest of us will strive to continue his legacy.

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