66 years: Memories, moments and legacies

Today — May 8 — is what would be my mom and dad’s 66th wedding anniversary. Both are gone now, but the picture below best says it all. Even in their waning years, they were devoted, loyal and faithful.

When I tell people about my parents, I simply show them the picture. “This will tell you their story,” I tell them. It needs no words. One of my boys took the photo about a decade ago as they walked hand-in-hand on the Boardwalk in Shreveport, Louisiana.

You see, we have great memories of traditions and the culture they instilled in us. The values, heritage and character. Things have changed since we sat around that kitchen table for dinner at 240 Moss Hill Terrace Drive when we were growing up. Not many families do that anymore, but I always had a spot at that table. It was mine, and no one else sat there for dinner. Because, of course, I was expected to sit there for dinner!

In that picture, you can see the old-school honor and integrity. Not to mention the simplicity of a couple who was on their own island of sorts. Oh, they weren’t completely oblivious to the changing times or the hectic pace that life was grappling with. Just determined that it wouldn’t change them.

Elizabeth and I have a museum of sorts scattered throughout our house here in Colorado. Things that are not only special but things that define who our parents were — and who we are. My desk sits next to my mom’s first sewing machine cabinet. Two of my dad’s hand-made tables — one from woodshop class in high school — are part of our living room furniture. Along with two tables from her grandmother’s home and an old postal desk from her mom.

Sure, we’re sentimental, but our greatest memories are in our hearts.

On what would be the 66th anniversary of their wedding day, it’s those memories, the intangible shadowy ones, that I’ll be thinking about.

  • Things they taught me in that living room.
  • Examples they showed me at church.
  • Lessons they gave me on the way to baseball games.
  • The heritage they left me through their rich history.
  • The culture they built in me when I didn’t always measure up.
  • The character they insisted on creating.

Despite the years, I can still see my mom in front of that sewing machine, making costumes for Oklahoma or a Christmas stocking. And I still have that image of my dad sitting in his comfortable chair at 5 a.m. with his coffee and his Bible.

We live in different times today, to be sure, but those are memories you can’t take away. Indelibly parked in my mind and heart.

What memories, heritage and traditions do you remember, whether from your parents, grandparents or perhaps an uncle?

Last year, I had a young man from South Africa to come to me. His uncle had just been tragically and suddenly killed in a car accident, and he was half a world away. “He was like a father to me,” the young man said through sobs. As we worked through his grief in the coming hours and days, I encouraged him to write down his memories, the things his uncle had told him, the good things he remembered. And, I encouraged him to share those thoughts with other family members and friends. In other words, live the legacy and allow it to carry on to future generations.

And, that’s where I’ll leave you today. Take some time to bring up those memories, traditions and legacies that only you can pass along. Write them down and be intentional about handing them down to your kids, your grandkids and your friends.

Think about it: In 100 years, few people will remember your mom and dad. Unless you tell them, unless you pick up the mantle, carry the torch and pass the baton.

Happy anniversary mom and dad!

Thoughts from the people who have been there.
  • You may not think you have a good memory, but you remember what’s important to you. ~Rick Warren.
  • Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you. ~Sharon Adler.
  • The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.Billy Graham.
  • Your story is the greatest legacy that you will leave to your friends. It’s the longest-lasting legacy you will leave to your heirs.Steve Saint
  • Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. ~Unknown.

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