A Room Full of Legacy

While we were in Texas for the Christmas holiday Dave and I had the privilege of attending my grandparents' church.  We sat in on one of the Sunday school classes before the service and were surrounded by many of the typical characters.  There was the guy in the front row who basically answered “Jesus” to every question.  The guy somewhere in the middle of the room with long rambling answers that started on the right topic and then went off on a seemingly unrelated tangent.  And then there was the class clown in the back row who went off on tangents of his own, randomly started singing the Texas A&M fight song, and did his best to make everyone laugh.  The girl sitting next to him kept a pleasant smile on her face and periodically elbowed him when his remarks got too out of hand.

Sound familiar?

The only difference is that this was not a group of preteens, but the oldest Sunday school class of the church.  Dave and I were the youngest in the group by around 50 years.  And the class clown in the back…yeah, he’s my grandfather.  The girl next to him is my grandmother, and after 64 years of marriage she knows his ways all too well.  She elbowed me a couple of times as well, so that I would stifle my laughter over his off the wall remarks and the pastor’s attempt to wrangle him back onto topic as he taught the class.  I have a lot of respect for that pastor.  His previous 10 years as a youth pastor are being put to good use with his new 80 year old pupils.

My grandfather, Popoo, the class clown
Despite the humor in the situation what was also impressed upon me during that Sunday school hour was the amount of life still left in this aging group of churchgoers and the amount of history they share both individually and collectively.   Individually they have vast amounts of life experience to share and collectively they have experienced many ups and downs as they have lived out life together.  My grandparents have attended that same church for around 50 years, my parents and both of my mothers’ siblings were married in its sanctuary, and more than one individual informed me that they remembered holding me as a baby.  Lives have been lived out at this church by the people in that room full of legacy.

While Dave and I were in Texas both my Dad’s parents and my Mom’s parents also shared with us many stories of their lives.  A number of them I had heard many times before, but a few new ones were thrown in as well.  I wanted to sit there and soak in all the stories.  Life is short - at this point I can never be sure that I will get to hear these testimonies of lives richly lived again.  I want to be able to pass these legacies down to my children, who at 2 years and 5 months old may have only limited memories of their great grandparents.  These are the moments when I question our choice to live in a foreign country so far away from family.

My favorite story of legacy is one that my Mom’s father tells often.  His parents were immigrants to from Greece (well, actually they came directly from Turkey, but that’s another story).  They came to the United States speaking no English and moved to the tiny town of Vernon, Texas.  They did not attend church in Vernon because there was not a Greek Orthodox Church in their town.  Then one day a neighbor showed up at their door and invited to take the family to church and the children to Sunday school the following Sunday.  They agreed and never stopped going.  Because of that woman my grandfather became a Christian and passed his faith along to his children who in turn passed their faith along to their children.  I am a part of that friendly neighbor woman’s legacy.   I wish she knew the rich history she shares with my family.

All of this makes me think about my own life.  At this point I’m pretty sure that I have many years ahead of me.  What kind of legacy will I leave for my children and the people around me?  What kind of stories and experiences will I be able to share 50 years from now?

I have never been one to make new years’ resolutions, but as this new year begins I want to work on being intentional about the way my legacy develops.


Post a Comment