The late Rev. Billy Graham once said, “The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”
A few weeks ago, my dad found in a box at his old boyhood home a dark blue, almost black, leather wallet. Upon opening the wallet, he found it mostly empty except for three things – my grandmother’s driver’s license, her social security card and 18 cents – one dime and eight pennies.
Though my grandmother has been gone for 12 years or more, the guess is that this is the last wallet she had and probably the last monies she ever touched.
I could picture Grandma counting out her change three or four times. That was her habit even before she got older.
Lois Fountain Holland died at the age of 95. She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother. She was a member of her church, and a loyal member of her community.
I looked at the wallet again, and touched it. I fingered the coins, and closed my eyes. My imagination allowed me to see my Grandma and “feel her touch.”
Grandma’s legacy was not her wallet, obviously, or the 18 cents.
If you knew my grandma, you would know exactly what I was talking about when I said she was the epitome of a Southern woman.
Do you remember ‘Gone With The Wind?’ Scarlett O’Hara was on one hand a ‘Southern belle,’ but on the other, she was smarter than some men, resourceful and she also was a hard worker.
That was my grandma – sort of.
Grandma Holland had character, had grace, and at the same time, could be, and I say this with the utmost respect, hard-headed, picky and determined.
Yet, there was something that Grandma ‘brought to the table’ that none of us could.
I laugh at that irony in that statement. See, my grandma could cook. She could, as they say, “throw down” with the best of the chefs. From her cornbread to her chicken to her green beans to her sweet potato casserole to her desserts, Grandma seemed to put in a little extra pinch of this or dash of that to provide a nutritious meal for her family and others.
But that is not what I am talking about this time. I do miss her molasses cookies at the holiday.
She made sure the house was clean, the clothes were laundered and even made sure that the yards were straight – with flowers in the beds.
Work was not a word that she was afraid of.
Grandma would get out in the yard, prune, pick, water and rake. She would make sure the boys – my dad and my uncle – were doing their homework and behaving. If they weren’t, peach tree limbs would be used, or at least, once at church I heard one was.
My grandma was a housewife. She did some work at the local shirt factory … but being a mother and a house wife was very important to her. She always made sure that my grandfather had a hot meal on the table at the right time. Grandpa was a contractor – plumber. He worked on jobs that took him some distance from home, but no matter what, everyday at the same time, he came home for lunch.
And Grandma had the table set.
That is just who she was, and how she loved.
I was in Alabama in college, and not able to get home. A package arrived from my grandma’s address. In it was a card and a decorative tin with more than a dozen of the cookies that would have melted even the hardest of criminals in Rikers.
The card very simply said, “Love, Grandma Holland.”
Her wallet, even though aged, is in pretty good shape. As I look it, I think of the legacy that my grandma left – one more important than any material object.
What is it?
Actions do speak louder than words.
Think about that.