Family Legacy

Today is my 65th birthday. This is the first birthday in my entire life when both of the people directly responsible for my existence are no longer here. I will miss my dad’s annual feigned question, “HOW old are you now?” and then the follow up, “I’m not old enough to have a daughter that old!”

Every. Single. Birthday.

So I guess today, I feel a little melancholy. Missing them both, yet so grateful for the legacy they gave me.

I learned from my parents how important family is … immediate family, extended family, friends who become like family. From our annual summer gatherings with extended family to watching my parents trek around the country after retirement in their big motor home to catch up with friends scattered far and wide, I learned how important it is to maintain the relationships in my life.

I learned from my parents to be respectful—of them (my early days were filled with “yes sir” or “no sir,” “yes ma’am” or “no ma’am”) and of everyone else in my world, no matter the color of their skin or their age or their background or their religion.

I learned to respect other cultures as we traveled around Europe in our little Audi, constantly aware of ourselves as tourists but always attempting the language and showing high regard for the people.

I learned to love other people, to be there when needed, to serve and help out. I learned that the behind-the-scenes people are extremely important.

As part of a proud military family, I learned from my parents to love my country. I learned to stand for the flag and put my hand over my heart—because it matters. I learned that freedom isn’t free; it takes brave men and women to defend it. I appreciate that every moment of my life, and I honor the military personnel and veterans who care enough for the rest of us to put their lives on the line.

But most important, mom and dad gave me the legacy of faith in God. They taught me my worth not only as their child, but also as a child of the heavenly Father, brought into this world to live in these particular decades for a purpose. They taught me to always seek God’s guidance and follow it. They showed by example that sometimes that’s difficult, sometimes the way is unclear, sometimes it doesn’t seem logical. But God’s path is always the right one.

They taught me right from wrong, taught me how to stand up for the right, and taught me how to be kind and winsome while doing it.

I can only hope and pray that I’m continuing their legacy and living the things they taught me.

Thanks, mom and dad, for this life you gave me.

“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:6-8 NIV)