Tag: Death

The gift worth a lifetime


Thomas Cahill writes about history, legacy really. In The Gift of the Jews Cahill explores the impact of “the God of Abraham.” This Creator-God gives us a beginning and an end; he defines justice and mercy, refines our conscience. And, as Cahill states, “Most of our best words—new, adventure, surprise, unique, individual, person, vocation, time, history, future, freedom, progress, spirit–faith, hope, justice—are the gifts of the Jews,” Abraham’s legacy to us.

Stay with me as we sneak a peek into our legacy—our view of life and living.

For better or worse, my dad shaped my view of the world. Part of his personal story was clouded by years of alcohol addiction, but his perspective about life has become clearer and more meaningful through the years. From my dad I learned to never throw away what could be fixed, to refrain from freeze-framing people (everyone can and will change), and to think outside the box (look for unexpected options). Over the years I have added chapters to his story, I have become his legacy, unwrapping the best and forgetting the worst.

Legacy is the wisdom, convictions, experiences, and values that have been handed down to us from the generations before us. This inheritance shapes our worldview, shapes our expectations, and predicts our choices.

Legacy is a gift; have you unwrapped it?

Question: How much of your faith is yours and how much of it is what you inherited from others?


A few years ago I was blessed by a “holy moment.”

La Mearl’s body was at the funeral home; the memorial service was set for the next day, so most of the details related to service had been dealt with. Now it was time to talk.

We gathered in the family room to tell stories, share memories, and unwrap the legacy of La Mearl Jacobs. She had lived a life filled with stories, from the dust bowl of Oklahoma to Southern California to Abilene, Texas. Most people didn’t know she worked for thirty years at Rockwell and helped prepare the budget for the first space shuttle, or that even at 75 years of age she loved the highest of the high-heeled shoes, or that although she really didn’t care much for baseball, she loved listening to Vin Scully call the LA Dodger’s games because her son, John, loved baseball.

Before long the conversation turned from stories about La Mearl, to stories of how she changed and shaped the lives in the room.

Her daughter, Carol, said, “Just a few hours before Mom died she said she wanted to go home. ‘I asked her if she meant back to her apartment?’ She said, “NO!’ I asked, ‘Home to be with Jesus?’ ‘YES!’”

That did it. The legacy began to emerge. A tapestry of love and grace and service was realized that night. La Mearl had lived a life that rubbed off on the young and old alike. When she rubbed off on you, you left a different person, a better person. She was gifted that way.

She knew how to demonstrate the things that really mattered. She stood up for values that she held dear, and she always seemed to know how to grace people, to accept them “as is.” Her grandkids talked of her perpetual, unconditional acceptance of them, no matter what.

Some things have to be seen to be understood: Love, forgiveness, acceptance, and faith are a few. La Mearl knew how to live them and then help you see them. Her life was an investment in family and church and friends—in people.

The fingerprints of God invaded the room. It was a legacy celebration, and I was honored to feel the holiness of it. La Mearl had seen the best in these kids before they had seen it in themselves and now they understood. The gift was unwrapped, the legacy unveiled.

The next day it was clear that La Mearl was still around. We buried the body, but she lives in all those present and beyond. She is still hugging and giving and loving and smiling and if you are really in need of it, she is still giving “that look.”

It’s her legacy.


You have received a legacy, and you are building a legacy. They are both bigger than you.

What is it that you want said about you when you’re gone? Write it down, now!
What stories are you telling? What sayings will be remembered and quoted? Write them down, now!

Like those before you, you are shaping the worldview of those who come after you. Shape it well!

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January 13, 2013 | 0 Comments More