Her Legacy is Remarkable

What comes to your mind when you hear the word legacy? Often times we equate legacy with money or an inheritance. But it can mean so much more than that…I’m thinking more of definition number 2.

leg·a·cy

(lĕg′ə-sē)

  1. pl. leg·a·cies
  2. Money or property given to another by will.
  3. Something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor or from the past: a legacy of religious freedom.
  4. Individual who is either an applicant to an educational institution or a matriculated student and is the child of analumna or alumnus.

Not long ago, a real hero died with an incredible legacy. Upon first appearance of this patient one would not note that you were standing on holy ground while in their presence. And the family sure didn’t tell you to remove your shoes because you were standing in the presence of greatness.

But as the family engaged in ‘life review’ it became so obvious that this patient was far from ordinary. I’m not often led to tears through a ‘life review’ but this time I was. No, she wasn’t a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize winner, a famous celebrity or an astronaut. Rather, she focused on what many would call the mundane – caring for her husband and sons, her extended family, the foster kids, those at church, the neighbors, her fellow baking competitors, and those she met through the website for PF.

For her family, foster kids included, she was just mom; who did mom things to best of her ability. She also had the gift of hospitality. So many of us think that hospitality is having a beautiful home, clean enough to be on the cover of “House Beautiful.” But this isn’t hospitality in its truest sense.

Hospitality is how comfortable others feel in your presence.  Over and over again, people shared how safe, accepted, and loved they felt in her presence. One of the foster kids, who is now a husband, father, and a huge bodybuilder, shared, “When I met her, my life was going the wrong way. But she changed all that by how she love me, accepted me, and showed me how to live.  Now I’m a Christian, as is my whole family – and it’s all because of her.”

This patient was quite the baker, cook, canner, etc.  Her family never ate bread off the store shelf – never! She was internationally known for her cucumber pickles. Her family remarked, “We always had individualized birthday cake decorations. And she gave her generous support through fund raising by always providing A+ baked goods to sell.” I could go on for pages about her accomplishments but I think you get the point.

We all meet patients like this from time to time. And it’s important to take a moment and reflect on their character, achievements, and persona.  More than just being amazed – we can be inspired.

It all comes down to what matters to us. And what we are focused on giving to our family and friends when we die. Statistically speaking, few of us will be able to leave a financially rich portfolio for our loved ones. But all of us can give our loved ones gifts that – in some sense – are far more valuable that the riches of this world.

I’m reminded of a song that was popular on the radio 30 years ago by Steve Green. It continues to be a powerful reminder to me to live well. The chorus went like this:

o may all who come behind us
find us faithful,
may the fire of our devotion
light their way.
may the footprints that we leave,
lead them to believe,
and the lives we live
inspire them to obey

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