Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Legacy

"What is a legacy?
It's planting seeds in a garden you'll never get to see..."
--Lin Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

I've been very quiet the past week and a half because I haven't had words. It takes a lot to truly leave me unable to write, but the Wednesday after Thanksgiving heaven gained my granddaddy, and I've been trying to find a way to live in a world without him in it.

Everyone keeps asking if his death was unexpected. Yes and no. He was 94, and although his mind and wit were as sharp as a tack his body was betraying him. That said, when we saw him at Thanksgiving we had a marvelous visit, and when I said I would see him at Christmas he nodded--no speech like there had been so many times in the past. No last words or wisdom. No last sage advice. No last "Heather Ann." So when I got the call, I was shocked.

Granddaddy is my hero. He was the first person I wanted to call when I was accepted into each of my degree programs. I waited to hear the pride in his voice when I called with good news. And when things were going wrong, I called my mom for comfort and my granddaddy to get it together. I've been struggling to find the right words to commemorate such a man.

Last night, the words that opened this post entered my mind, though, and I finally found the words. 

"What is a legacy?
It's planting seeds in a garden you'll never get to see..."

Those lines have always resonated with me, but last night I realized how very wrong they were about Granddaddy.

You see...I believe he saw his legacy. He wrote it--physically and metaphorically.

Physically, he wrote the book. After years of my nagging and threatening to come sit in his study until he told me every family story for me to transcribe, he gave us the greatest gift and wrote his memories. Each short story teaches not only about him but also about life. Who to be. How to live. It's a guidebook. It is a legacy of wisdom that I pick up when I'm lost or just need to hear his voice because it is in every page and every word.

He also saw his legacy grow in his family. These pictures of him will always be some of my most treasured:

The memories the kids have of the years of talking with him. Seeing him beam at them. Issa will always be his princess and Evan will always be his little man. Just as I am his legacy so are they. We learn from his example and his words and his love. We carry all of that forward with us and through us.

We have talked about him a lot the past two weeks. I was pretty deep in grief when Issa looked at me and said, "You know what Granddaddy would tell you: suffering builds character."

Yes...but the rest of that story is suffering builds perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope, and it is our hope which does not disappoint (Romans 5:4). And so we move forward in hope.

And we move forward as his legacy...knowing it is very much a garden he planted, saw grow, and will continue to watch and guide in the years to come...

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