My Legacy


It’s funny how death makes you think more about life. This week, my grandma passed away. She lived 87 years on this earth. She had been married to my grandpa for nearly 67 of those years. The last few she had been home-bound unable to do much of anything for herself. She had always been one who was very independent, stayed busy and was involved in many things. But at the end, her life had taken on the mundane tasks of just surviving. My grandpa chose to care for her himself – never leaving her side except to run errands when someone else could sit with her. He was truly the most devoted husband I have ever seen! My grandmother suffered from dementia and so her mind was often unclear. Of late her speech had become slurred or unintelligible and then pretty much disappeared altogether. Living three hours away, I haven’t been able to see her as much in this altered state. I would always try to visit when we were in town, but we never stayed long as the sudden noise of little girls was not always welcome to her scattered mind.

But now that she is gone, I have begun to think of her as she was during my growing up years. She was a strong woman who didn’t have a problem with telling you just what she thought about any and every thing. She was very devoted to her family and church. She was never idle as far as I could see.   She made the best tapioca pudding and salad dressing I’ve ever had! (Not eaten together by the way!) Preparing to visit with my family this week to remember her life and celebrate the woman she was, I have also had to prepare my children for what death looks like on this side. It’s not a natural thing. It’s not a pleasant thing. And thankfully, we know, it’s not the last thing! I know that my grandma is more alive now than she ever was on earth! She is young again. Her mind is whole. She is in perfect peace. Her face is no doubt radiant. Oh to see what she sees and hear what she is now hearing!

I am so thankful for the legacy I have received in my family. My grandma was a PK (pastor’s kid). I am fortunate enough to remember both of my great grandparents and I know I heard my great-grandpa preach. Both my grandma and grandpa were raised in Christian homes and raised their kids in a Christian home. My other grandmother had been a PK as well. Sometimes I take that spiritual heritage for granted. But as I am reflecting this week, I find myself so very thankful! My family certainly isn’t perfect. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in being “Pharisaical” because of that background and sometimes you struggle to see the truth of it. But I definitely thank God for it! Through the lives and prayers of parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, my life has been shaped and guided. I know I have a huge cloud of witnesses watching over me, cheering me on as I go about my days (Hebrews 12:1). I know I will have quite the crowd to welcome me in heaven someday – just from my own family – and there is nothing that compares to that! It makes me think that the most important thing we can do for our families – our parents, our children, all who love us – is to make sure they have no doubt where we will be when we leave this earth. The Bible is clear on what it takes: confessing your sins and turning away from them; allowing God to take control. You can’t have a relationship with Jesus and then live however you want. He must be first. When you are truly living like that, people see it.

I don’t doubt the location of any of my family members who have gone before me. I have no doubt I will see them again. They have given those of us left behind a great peace and a great hope. We will meet again!

Even if you do not have a heritage like mine, you can begin one of your own. You can begin a legacy that your kids, grandkids and anyone who is a part of your life, can be proud of – one that gives peace once you are gone. I encourage you to make this a top priority. We are not told how many days we have. None of us knows when our last day will be. But each day we can make a choice to live as God would have us live. Nothing will give those who love us greater peace when we are gone.

As I prepare for the funeral this week, I thank God for the peace we have of knowing where my grandma now resides. And I am praying for guidance to lead my children towards the same destination. One day, death and dying will be no more. Tears will be wiped away. All will be as it should have always been. Someday, none of the concerns or hurts of this life will matter. But until then, I must choose to live in light of the faith God has given me. He is all I need and He is enough!

Thank you God, for the faithfulness of those who’ve gone before me.   Help me to live in a way worthy of you, for the sake of those who follow me. Amen .

~Tara Hensel