Eleven days ago my Mom left this world for another she didn’t know but steadfastly believed in. It’s still hard to imagine that she is no longer here, yet she hasn’t been here in her heart for a very long time. As thoughts of her have returned in flood, I started thinking about her legacy to me as her only daughter. Then I read that “legacy” is one of the overused words of the 21st century. Hence the simplicity of the title.
I could have written these a while ago. Truth be told, I wish I had, so I could have shared them with her. Perhaps they’d have made her smile and remember . . .
Here is the last picture I have of her smiling, before she spiraled down into depression:
My brother tells me they’ve saved her hymnbook for me. That is my solid, physical inheritance. I look forward to holding it again. She and I sang many of her favorites during my sporadic visits from Africa. She loved Blessed Assurance and Great is Thy Faithfulness.
I have a myriad of other things inherited from her from the shape of my hands to my reflection as I pass windows on the street. But here are seven intangibles that have become part of me because she was my mom.
- “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9. I had this verse memorized before I knew what on earth a peacemaker was. I had no idea there were eight other beatitudes. I was sure, however, that being a peacemaker was the most important work on earth. My conclusion is that my brothers and I must have had many disagreements which brought this wisdom to our immature minds. It is now embedded in how I approach life. (And I am still learning what a peacemaker is.)
- A love of words. Mom had an amazing vocabulary. She graduated valedictorian of her class in Providence Bible Institute, but I never knew until Dad told me after they retired. She knew a plethora of words and modeled using them to say what she meant. She was also a stickler for spelling them properly. She was the spelling dictionary of our house. This bequest of hers makes me aware of typos in every book I read. Thanks, Mom.
- Ready to enjoy a mean game of scrabble at a moment’s notice. Not sure when we took up this innocuous past time, but we indulged whenever we got together. She was a formidable foe and when she started improvising on the spelling of some words, I realized it was time to throw a game or two. Here I could paraphrase Samuel Johnson’s London saying: “The woman who is tired of scrabble is tired of life.”
- Laughter. From my earliest days I remember laughing giddily with Mom. Sometimes Dad, armed with his own incredible sense of humor, would just stare at us in amazement that we could find something so funny. My firm abs I attribute to a lifelong practice of laughing until my stomach hurts. (Her depression is still a mystery to me.)
- Life is too short to keep an immaculate house. Dust never killed anyone, even though Dad was allergic to it. There are always more important things to do than clean a house, like playing scrabble. Hence, one should try to keep ahead of the clutter and live for the important things; and we all know that they are people.
- Wear second hand clothes without batting an eye. Mom knew thrift stores wherever she went. Wise Penny and Twice is Nice were two of her favorites. She bought bargains just because they were bargains. The concept of planning a wardrobe and focusing on colors was foreign to her, and hence, to me. Once a friend at Trinity College asked me why I dressed like a refugee. I was nonplussed. Is there another way to dress?
- Any time is a great time to light a candle. Mom always had candles around. She lit them for breakfast, for BIble reading, for lunch, for mid afternoon snacks, in the living room, in the bathroom, in the bedroom. You get the idea. Candles have atmosphere. So now, when I light my candles, I thank the Lord for such a great mom.