A Legacy of Love

A Legacy of Love

From Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul

Deborah Shouse

A Legacy of Love

It would be more honorable to our distinguished ancestors to praise them in words less, but in deed to imitate them more.

Horace Mann

“Who’s that, Grandma?” Four-year-old Taylor pointed to a delicate gold photo frame I’d carefully placed atop my new oak desk. I pulled my oldest grandchild into my lap so he could peer closer at the face of the woman smiling back at us. “That’s Mam-maw Gladys,” I replied.

I reached for the picture, my fingers carefully tracing the outline of the soft countenance returning my gaze . . . her clear blue eyes, the wrinkle lines that creased her forehead and the soft smile that always brought me peace.

My mind filled with remembrances of my mother. Always the peacemaker, it seemed she never made anyone angry. Even though she was barely able physically, she baby-sat my young daughter so I could work. She always made time for her grandchildren. When she wasn’t with them, she was making something for them with her hands.

Then her illness progressed. She was in the hospital for three weeks, suffering complications from chronic lymphoma. The doctor wanted to experiment with a simple operation that might give her another year of life. She agreed so she could be around to greet her long-awaited first great-grandchild.

After the surgery failed, she had to depend upon a respirator to breathe. When the doctors determined she wasn’t going to breathe on her own, the respirator was removed and she was moved to a private room. Mom died there the next day, exactly a month before Taylor’s birth.

Still grieving, I traveled five hundred miles to be with my family and welcome my new grandson.

A few days later, my daughter asked me to sit with Taylor while she visited her doctor. As I rocked him and cradled him in my arms, suddenly I realized that my love for Taylor was the same that Mam-maw Gladys had for my children. At that moment, I felt so close to her. And through my tears, I understood why she had sacrificed and cared so much for her family. I realized her love for us was so deep, so wide, so unconditional—a love I was only beginning to learn to give.

“She looks like you, Grandma!” Taylor’s voice jolted me back to the present. He touched the gold-framed photo tenderly. My eyes turned to his, and a soft smile came to my lips and heart, for then I knew my mother’s love and peace.

Libby C. Carpenter

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