Legacy. This word has come to my mind several times in the past seven days as I have reflected on the life well lived through my mother-in-law Betty Riordan. She is with Jesus now, but the life she lived will forever inspire us and remain a constant glow in our hearts and minds.
A legacy is an exemplary life of solid values, sound choices, and honorable character all wrapped up and embodied in a person who took the time to leave a piece of themselves in the hearts of those whose lives they touched.
What is said of a person who leaves a legacy? It is very difficult to realize or measure the impact of a life well lived, but certainly the testimonies of the ones whose lives were touched by it is worth noting. Many remarks were made of Mrs. Riordan that continually wove themselves in and out of conversations throughout the events of the week:
“She loved teaching the Bible to children; she loved singing songs with them. She never let an opportunity pass to share her love of Jesus with the children.”
“Thank you, Grandma, for helping to mold me into the person I am today.”
“We will never know this side of Heaven how many people Betty influenced by her many ways of service.”
“Perpetually happy and a constant reminder of what a godly woman was like. “
“She had a wonderful ability to make anyone and everyone feel important. Her love for all those she came into contact with transcended language barriers, social status, and past mistakes. She was quite simply, one of the most likable people anyone could have the pleasure of meeting.”
“I do know her impact on me is quantifiable. She changed who I am as a man. Her memory is still changing me.”
“It is because of Mrs. Betty that I am in the ministry today.”
“I was always inspired by her goal of taking the gospel to every continent.”
“I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to know such a precious lady and my life is better because of her!”
“When I think of remarkable women like Lottie Moon or Mother Theresa, Betty is right there on the list.”
“Her legacy will live on in ways we don’t even know yet.”
“Dad and I sat thinking of just the people now in full time ministry who were under her leadership at camp…it’s a staggering list..”
“Ms. Betty was the most mission minded saint I have ever seen.”
“I hope I can become half the person that she was for us.”
“Her legacy will live on through her children and grandchildren and through all the many other lives she has touched.”
“She taught me to love God and that everything was in his hands even in my toughest times.”
“She never once complained.”
“I give her a lot of the credit for my career choice, my move to WA state and my desire to work with people.”
“She loved the word of God.”
“Betty was on fire for Jesus.”
So, this is how Mrs. Riordan is remembered. In a nutshell, Betty Riordan impacted her world. She left a legacy.
It is so important for us to put the brakes on our busy life at times like these and ponder. Do I want to leave a legacy? I don’t know of anyone who would answer that question with a heartfelt “No”. Why would any of us want to be born into this world and not leave it having made it better than it was before we came?
We must ask ourselves, “What am I doing about it?”
This question is answered in the moment by moment, day to day choices of life. If we will one day leave a legacy it will be done in the context of a constant awareness that every choice we make moves us toward or away from that goal. Let’s never forget Mrs. Riordan and others like her who have gone on before us and made choices that left, for the rest of us, a beautiful legacy.
We avoid talking about death. We avoid thinking about death, therefore we live as if it will never happen and our daily choices are affected by it. Death is as naturally a part of life as birth and the dash between the two is all we have. Let’s make it count; our kids and the generations that follow are depending on us!
We should take the time to occasionally talk about death with our children. Consider taking them to a cemetery and read the headstones comparing the differences in what is said of each person. Talk about the dash in between the two years and what it represents. Tell them stories about people from your past who left a legacy.
Hmmm…..so how would I hope for my headstone to read? I’m going to close this blog now and write my epitaph.