The dictionary defines legacy as “an amount of money or property left to someone in a will.” Synonyms for the word include: inheritance, heritage, gift, birthright.
A cousin was going through old family photos a few months ago and uncovered this one. I never knew it existed, but it has become one of my special treasures. It represents to me the most important legacy my parents left for me.
These are my parents on their honeymoon. Look how young and happy they were. They were married very early on a Sunday morning in the doorway of the new sanctuary of First Baptist Church, Athens, AL on June 19, 1949. The sanctuary wasn’t quite finished yet, but they wanted to have the distinction of being the first couple married there. And that’s how they came to get their names in the cornerstone. 🙂
After the very short, simple ceremony in front of a few family members and friends, they started driving to the Gulf of Mexico, no doubt to see those waves and that sand for the very first time. They stopped in Mobile to see my dad’s brother Joe and his wife Sarah (who no doubt were the ones who took the photo). Obviously, they were eager to put their toes in the water. Notice the rolled up pants legs and the hiked up skirt.
They both came from very poor backgrounds. My dad’s parents were sharecroppers in Limestone County. He told stories of selling watermelons on the square in Athens on Saturdays. My mother’s father was a barber in the town who made $9 a week and never owned a car. “Mr. Clarence,” as everyone called him, walked to work, to church, to the grocery store, etc. and was a familiar sight in town — so much so, that often people pulled over to offer him a ride. He sang tenor in the church choir and famously slept through many sermons.
They had very little in terms of material possessions, but this photo reminds me of their love for each other. I was born almost exactly 11 months later. Here, 69+ years after the photo, it still gives me validation, assurance and a peaceful settled feeling to know that my parents adored each other.
In a blog post from 2015, Joe Sturniolo wrote:
Chuck Swindoll on his Insight for Living radio show talked about a survey of eighty-five-year-old people as they entered the twilight of life.
They were asked what they regretted most about the way they had lived.
The seniors said:
- I would have spent more time reflecting in meditation and contemplation.
- I would have risked more.
- I would have done more things that would live on after I die.
The third response captured my attention because I think a lot about my family legacy. I don’t want to leave behind just my regrets. I want to leave a meaningful legacy that matters.
The third response resonates with me, too. I would have done more things that would live on after I die. How grateful I am that so many evidences of my parents’ love for each other continue to live on, even now that they are both in heaven.
How does that motivate me? Three actions I want to carry out — 1) Demonstrating my love for Steve in front of the kids and grandkids. 2) Hugging, affirming and giving unconditional love to all of them. 3) Modeling a consistent Christian life.
Proverbs 13:22 — “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children . . .”
Psalm 37:18 — “The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care, and their inheritance will endure forever.”
1 John 4:7 — “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”