Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A Heritage of Faith...A Legacy of Love

I Still Enjoy Grandma's Quilts
This past Sunday we celebrated MOM. It was a great day for many and a troubling day for others. I saw many posts on social media about people who no longer have their mothers. 

I know I’m blessed to have my mom here…in good health…and active. But as Mother’s Day is a day of remembering, my thoughts were drawn to my grandmother and great-grandmother as well. I’ve often thought of writing three novellas trying to tell their stories and capture what I’ve gained from these women. Maybe someday I’ll do that. I know what I’d call them: Samantha’s Blessing, Ophia’s Prayer, and Nora’s Love.

Samantha’s Blessing

I never knew my great-grandmother, though if you ask me, or any of my cousins about her you’ll get a fair description. My grandmother was the oral historian in our family and told us all about her mother…what she knew, that is. Grandma was only seven-years-old when her mother died leaving her and her siblings orphaned.

Grandma often told the story of how her mother, Samantha, blessed them on her deathbed. How she “looked down the line” at each of her children’s faces and told them she had to leave. “God bless mother’s children,” she said. She told them to trust in Jesus and do what was right. 

And they did. 

They had to…the uncle who was supposed to care for them robbed them of their inheritance and left them to fend for themselves. I met a man at my grandmother’s funeral who told how his father came by the farm where they lived and saw them all lined up at the fence. They were waiting for the chicken to lay an egg so they could have breakfast. 

That uncle who was to care for them took my grandmother away to be a servant in his house. She was to see to the needs of his two children. She was to clean their chamber pots and such. As their servant, my grandmother never finished grade school.

But she had so much more. She had her mother’s final words.

Grandma and her siblings survived. They all fared well in the community and Grandma married one of the smartest men I’ve ever known. My grandfather. They had seven children. When the youngest one was around two-years-old, that mean old uncle of hers and his wife fell ill. 

Their children didn’t come to care for them. 

My grandmother, carrying my infant uncle on her hip, walked frequently to her uncle’s house and cared for him and his wife. 

One day her oldest daughter challenged her. “Why? As mean as those people were to you, why help them?”

Grandma’s answer? “Honey, if I don’t forgive those poor old people, how can I expect Jesus to ever forgive me?”

Ophia’s Prayer

Because I had heard this story so many times, I never questioned my Grandmother Ophia’s prayer. She prayed every day that God would allow her to live long enough to see her children grown and on their own. She didn’t want her own children to experience the hardships she had lived through.

“I asked God to let me live long enough to see my own children grown and now here you are, Becky. He’s let me see you grown with your own little girls.”

Grandma lived to see six of her children to adulthood, marry, and have children of their own. She cuddled and cooed in the ears of great-grandchildren and prayed over them as she had her own babies.

Grandma is the one who taught me that God always gives us more than we ask for or deserve.  (Though, I always thought she deserved the best.)

Nora’s Love

My mother, Nora, could well be the model for unconditional love. I know. I’ve been the recipient of her love lavished on me for over half a century. Never wavering love. Love without abandon. Love laced with bear hugs and chicken ‘n dumplings. Love you don’t have to work for…you have it because you are there.

My mom’s ability to love others is rooted in Samantha’s blessing and Ophia’s prayer. It is a love first founded in a relationship with God and nurtured within a family filled with love. Hers is the perfect example of forgiveness and care.

Don’t get me wrong. My mom isn’t perfect. I know that, because none of us are…but she is the perfect mom for me; the perfect grandma to my daughters; the perfect GG (great-grandma) to my eight grandchildren.

Rebecca’s Faith

And so it comes to me. You see, while my trust in Jesus is my own, I have a rich heritage of faith. Without it I couldn’t have breathed after Tom died. Without it I couldn’t have moved to Kosovo. I couldn’t have taken on new challenges. I am the recipient of Samantha’s blessing carried through the years. I am the target of Ophia’s prayer that rings in my ears to this day, and I continue to be the beneficiary of Nora’s love.

This is my heritage. My inheritance… received only to be passed down to my children and my children’s children and so on. 

What legacy will you leave? What will be the title of your life?

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