Nana’s tangible legacy – her Bible – was given to me by my mother when I got married.
My memories of my Nana seem dreamy to me, since I was only eleven when I saw her last. She lived a jostling 2 day-long train ride away from our home on Capitol Avenue in Jackson, Mississippi. Those early memories included the aromatic ripe figs hanging on the trees; a wonderful old, dark brown Emerson electric fan with brass blades whirling round that kept us cool; and gorgeous purple German iris that she grew in her yard. But I also remember her gentle hands as she brushed my hair until it would shine and how she put eucalyptus essential oil on my pajama’s collar when I had a stuffy nose.
Her legacy was one of love.
Nana’s Bible remained in it’s protective wrappings for years, but now it is of my most treasured possessions.
As a young woman, before my mother was born, my Nana was a part of the Women’s Suffrage movement, and on Election Day in 1920, millions of American women exercised their right to vote for the first time. She is the young woman on the left.
Nana married my grandfather William just before the Great Depression swept instability across the land. These were desperate years of great suffering for our country, and it was during this time that my grandmother took her 5 year-old daughter, my mother, to hear the gospel preached in a nearby Baptist church.
Fast forward only ten years to something quite scandalous.
It was wartime, and my very young mother eloped with a striking young Dutch airmen stationed at the nearby base! Nana was angry and worried!
After all, her fifteen year old daughter had married a foreigner, and she didn’t really know this man! Nana didn’t want her to ruin her life and lose sight of her faith and moorings in Jesus Christ.
In those earlier years, Nana didn’t know the depth of the wonderful Savior we have, but through many trials (the Great Depression, WWII, a divorce, and my mother’s elopement) she grew up in her faith and in her prayer life, studying her Bible, and holding to the promises.
Through the years, as our little family was growing, she worked to create a legacy to leave to us. She sent many letters, all of which we still have, ribbon-bound, filled with practical guidance, loving counsel, and advice.
But most beautiful of all, she began recording her thoughts in her worn old Bible. She had been diagnosed with cancer, and she now purposed in her heart that it was to be an parting gift to her beloved only child (my mother) and her children. I was just 13 when we heard she had liver cancer and would not live.
Nana’s Bible showed heavy wear from use as she obviously poured over its yellowing pages.
She was leaving us a legacy of faith.
…”when bewildered or scared or confused~remember “He is the way” and go in His way~turn to Him and His word~there you will find “the way” and go into it~and when years have gone by and you look back upon things there will be no regrets~but peace and praises to Him who has taught you and shown you the Way…Trust him~live for Him~glorify Him in your body and in your spirit…”
~Nana’s words to us
Her desire was to leave a sure guide for us in the uncertain years ahead, years she knew would be filled with pain and difficulties and the realities of life. She had learned to rely on the power of Christ rather than her own and wanted to communicate it. This was her last great act of love and devotion for her family.
When she knew that her hour to go to the Lord was near, Nana wrote for us not to fret or worry about the ‘departing time’. Poignantly, she references John 13 which speaks of Jesus’ departure and His love for His own:
” Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” ~John 13: 1
I believe she prayed for the generations to come. I thank God for her diligent prayers, her guidance to my mother and my father, and her influence in my life and now that of my family.
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” ~2 Tim. 1:5
Ask yourself two questions:
What kind of spiritual legacy will you leave behind when you die?
Have you built a solid relationship (as much as it is up to you) with them so that they will receive your words into their heart?
If so, that will be your greatest legacy.