Story by Pastor Jeff Williams
I believe the most important legacy we can pass onto our children is the legacy of unconditional love. I’m 40 years old, a pastor, married and have three children. About a year ago I lost my precious mother to the debilitating disease of Alzheimers. As I reflect back upon her life and our relationship the thing I’ve been most grateful for is her ever present and unwavering love for me.
Growing up having lost my father at age five, my mom had to fill both the roles of nurturer and provider. We had little of material things. We lived at below the poverty level for most of my life but in regards to love we were wealthy. My mom would heap love upon me on a daily basis. Sometimes in the form of serving, sometimes in a gentle touch, sometimes by sacrificial giving and always by her words of affirmation. I could go into great detail of all the ways she showed me love through the years but you don’t have that much time to read the volumes I’d write.
As a dad I have made and will probably continue to make a lot of mistakes over the years but one thing I’ve done right is that my children and my wife all know I love them deeply. Love flows out of me freely and naturally because I was radically loved. Each day I’m reminded of her legacy of love when I see my children demonstrate that same kind of love. On the day my mom went home with the Lord something happened that I will never forget. I received the news of my mom’s passing one day while in my office at home. With her health as bad as it had been for the last few years I knew such a phone call was immanent but nothing prepares you for the moment it really comes. In a few short seconds the words knocked me to the floor and I began to weep in such away as I never have in my life. There I was, a grown man sobbing on the floor without shame for the one I already so desperately missed. My wife soon arrived and began to comfort me as best she could and soon my then three-year-old daughter Lindsey came on the scene. Not understanding why her Daddy was crying so deeply, she figured it must be a REALLY bad owee and began to administer “first aid.” Whenever we play doctor she loves to put on “Bandums,” which was her word at the time for Band-Aids. After sobbing so long that I felt I had no tears left to cry, I looked up and saw a beautiful sight. My three-year-old had gone down stairs and grabbed some tape and had begun to put little pieces of tape all over my legs.
“What are you doing honey?” I asked her.
“I’m putting bandums on your owees daddy.”
There she was, scared, confused and worried showing love to her dad in the best way she could. I thought to myself “and mom’s love lives on.”
With Alzheimer’s disease you lose your loved ones slowly and towards the end they recognize you only in flashes that you seize and cherish. Towards the end of her life as I sat on the end of her bed one night she looked at me and I could tell for a brief moment she once again knew who I was.
“Mom?” I said excitedly as she looked at me knowingly.
“I’ve always loved you Jeff” were her words.
“Oh I love you too mom!” I said as I arose to embrace her. It was one of the last things she ever said to me. I still miss her greatly and always will until I see her in heaven, but though she is gone, her legacy of love remains.
Whatever you do in this life make your legacy one of love.