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Posts Tagged ‘legacy’

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Earlier this summer I traveled back and forth three times to help clean out my parents’ lakeside home in Mississippi. I wrote about the sadness over leaving the home that has been a summer sanctuary for me in a slice a few weeks ago.

What I haven’t written about are the treasures we found. My parents had no recollection that my godmother’s estate had come to them. It was all buried in a brown envelope in a desk drawer in their bedroom. I had resolved to look at everything in the house and decide if it was to keep, to trash, or to sell. When I opened the envelope with the simple label “Hollingsworth,” I didn’t know what I would find.

It’s been years since my godmother died. I barely remember a visit to her when I was a teenager. I was afraid of her because of her age and her suffering. I never knew her as a healthy person, but I dearly loved her son. Bill was my father’s best friend and lived as a monk in Covington, Louisiana. He was small in stature but big in personality. He died in December, 2015. I miss visits with him.

My parents gave me a sculpture my godmother Jane had made and some sketches of her that her husband, William Hollingsworth, had drawn. But I knew nothing of the jewelry she left behind.

The most charming item of jewelry was a pearl ring. And it fit me perfectly. Pearls are one of my signature jewels because the name Margaret means “pearl.” Seems meant to be.

Another treasure I brought home with me was the portrait of my maternal grandmother. Again someone I didn’t know. She was Margaret Shields Liles, and she died three months before I was born. As I was named for her, the portrait passed to me. It was painted in 1943 when my mother was 7 years old. My mother remembers traveling to Memphis to have it done. I grew up with this image hanging first in my grandfather’s house, then in ours. The angel in a white dress cradling her violin became my guardian angel. Now, she hangs beautifully in my dining room.

Portrait of Margaret Shields Liles, 1943.

There is a feeling of loss with these treasures. The wonderful women I never knew feel like a part of me in some small way. The passing of a legacy, a history. Treasures lost; treasures found.

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Mom and Dad

My parents, Dot and John, with my youngest daughter.

When Holly posted that the theme for this week’s Spiritual Thursday would be legacy again, my attitude about this word had improved. I realized that today is June 11th, my parents’ 55th wedding anniversary. Somehow we don’t tend to talk about someone’s legacy while they are still living, but I want to challenge that idea today. My parents are thankfully still living and healthy. Every day I am grateful for that. They do not live near me, so I have to rely on phone calls. In fact, my mother was the one who talked me into doing Facebook. She wanted to know what I was doing. Funny, I don’t think she counted on this whole blogging thing, though.

I could write about the legacy of talent; My father is an artist while my mother is a musician. Or I could write about how they parented us to be ourselves. Or I could write about the great flood of 1979 that tested our family as well as our community. All of these would make good blog posts. However, today, since it’s Spiritual Thursday, I want to write about my parents as spiritual directors.

My parents met at the Episcopal Student Center on the campus of LSU. My mother was the daughter of an Episcopal priest. I am what they call a “cradle Episcopalian.” I was baptized by my grandfather at a mere 3 weeks old. At that time our country was involved in the Korean War, and there was a possibility Dad would be sent to Korea. He ended up being sent to Fort Polk, Louisiana.

From my birth, the Episcopal church has been a stronghold in my life. I even followed in my parents’ footsteps to LSU and the Episcopal Student Center where I met my husband. You could say there was something in the water, but in reality, the church was a place where I felt at home. And when you feel at home somewhere, you can be the best you. Today, my husband and I are faithful parishioners at his home church, The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany.

When I visit, we can be in the kitchen or on the porch where we look out at the lake and talk for hours about spiritual theology. I value these discussions. My mother and I talk about the Enneagram. This is a interesting theory around personalities. My father will discuss theories about time and space, death and resurrection. His ideas fascinate me.

While the church is my stronghold, my parents have been and continue to be my spiritual directors. I found this picture of their church holding a can drive and creating a labyrinth. They are there in the circle of worshippers like they are with me in the circle of my spirit.

Labyrinth of cans raises awareness of hunger.

Labyrinth of cans raises awareness of hunger.

There are only two lasting bequests we copy

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Every week Holly invites us to write about our spiritual journey. This week’s theme is Leaving a Legacy. Too much pressure if you think about it, which is exactly what I do after she tweets out the theme. Carol wrote about leaving a digital footprint on Sunday. I told her that I don’t like to think about this because it’s intimidating. What if I’m not “leaving a legacy.” I am very good at assigning guilt to myself. I do much better in this digital platform when I just write what’s on my mind. When I am true to myself, most readers respond in a positive way and with a connection. This is more important to me than leaving a legacy.

Which leads me to playing with the word in a word play poem.

Legacy is a lofty word
leaning on me like
the preacher gripping the pulpit
pointing its accusing finger.

Legacy leaves me looking
too long, hoping to see
what they see, to know the secret
of a life well lived.

With its sharp turned back,
Legacy asks “Why aren’t you scrapbooking?”
Folding pictures into decorative pages,
making memories into 3 by 5 cards.

I’d like my legacy to be a flower
shrouded in beauty with strong scent
pressed between the pages of a favorite book
waiting there for you to find.

–Margaret Simon

Painted in Waterlogue

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Better to have loved and lost than to have never loved a tall.
—Brian Rhoades, 6’10”

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This weekend I attended two memorial services. One for a beloved coach gone too soon at only age 54. The other for a beloved patriarch of our church and town, passing slowly a week before his 91st birthday. In both services, these things resonated with me: community, legacy, and faith.

Brian Rhoades was a pillar of the school community at the Episcopal School of Acadiana. All three of my daughters received the caring encouragement of Coach Rhoades. Our girls were with us Friday night along with many hundreds who weathered the heat of the gym to share, remember, and cry together. Since our last graduated in 2008, we have kept some ties to the school. As sad as we all were to lose a friend, we were comforted by the closeness and love of the community there.

On Saturday, our church community came together to honor George King Pratt Munson. What a great name for such a wonderful man! We sang together and listened to the long history of Pratt’s life in New Iberia. Then we celebrated with a feast and conversation in the parish hall. Pratt’s ashes were the first to be placed in the columbarium outside in the courtyard. I love knowing that a part of him remains with us.

Both Coach Rhoades and Mr. Pratt leave behind a legacy, not only in their children and grandchildren, but in the kind of people they were. I heard words like kind, compassionate, gentle, funny, always smiling, honest, genuine, mentor, and friend. If any of us could embody half of these words, we would be grateful. When we were leaving the memorial at ESA, my husband said, “I think someone should have said, ‘Be Brian Rhoades.'” You could say that about Pratt, too. The legacy of being the best that you can be.

Just last week, our new bishop, Jake Owensby, spoke to us about faith. He said faith is plunging in to God’s grace. I love the word plunge. And plunging I did when I held Brian’s wife and Pratt’s granddaughter. What can you say? What words are there to comfort the grieving? None, really, except love. I offered love with all my being. I have faith that they are both with God now, shining like the rainbow, offering us each hope in God’s eternal grace.

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