I strolled the tree lined paths of the small-town cemetery. The same trail I dawdled along many years ago as flower assistant to my grandmother in the ritual of decorating the family plots. Not only memories live among the marked headstones, but my family history dwells beneath the billowing trees. Behind the stone walls stand the emblems marking the lives of three great grandfathers, three great grandmothers, two grandmothers, and two grandfathers. The foundation of who I am speaks to me from the etched names and dates. They testify to a legacy of pioneer work ethic, triumphant faith, and sacrificial love. The wind whispers the heritage that time nor circumstance can erase.
The flowers nestled in my hand remind me of the reason for this journey to visit my lineage. No longer the flower assistant, but now the one in charge of placing the blossoms to flash the message: Someone special lies beneath this ground. I stand reading the name of my grandmother, Inez Pester, who died in a car accident several years ago in route to our family Thanksgiving dinner. I consider her the queen of the family pedigree.
Each person holds a specific place in a family; Nana was the heart. Unselfish, unconditional love embraced us each time we entered through her back door. She spoke volumes about being a servant, caring for others, and an unwavering faith in God through her daily actions and encounters. She never uttered an unkind word to me, offered unsolicited advice, or caused me to feel anything except acceptance. Nana perfected the skill of cooking your favorite meal, finding the ideal Christmas gift, or pretending she loved the sounds of John Denver blaring from her antique stereo. By observing her delivering the famous orange jello salad to funerals for family meals, through catching her pulling out a hidden hundred dollar bill to drop into the church offering plate to help build a new baptistery, or from hearing her hum another one of the old hymns she loved so much, I learned about service. I learned about God.
Just as my family ancestry awaits me inside the metal gates of Maple Grove Cemetery, so another family heritage beckons to me from the pages of God’s Word. Residing amidst the anointed inspirations is my spiritual legacy. In reading about Moses and the struggle to deliver the Israelites, I become a spectator to the mighty hand of God. The fiery heat enveloping Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego sears a demonstration of steadfast faith. As the disciples cast aside their nets to follow the footsteps of Jesus, I witness submission in action. Each event echoes a message that I am to do the same.
There are big shoes to fill. I have inherited two sets of legacies. May God find me true and faithful to both. One day in heaven it will be an incredible reunion. I’ll see my family again . . . my earthly and my spiritual ones. Nana will be standing next to Moses with her arms outstretched ready to embrace me in the folds of her flowing robe. What a day that will be! I hope I see you there. Nana had no idea the impact she had on my life. What about you? Are you leaving an indelible legacy for your children and grandchildren? How will you be remembered?
About Shelley Pulliam
Howdy! (A girl from Oklahoma has to use this as her greeting) I’m Shelley Pulliam, executive director of Arise Ministries and former teacher of hormone-filled 8th graders. But my real claim to fame rests in my award as second grade spelling bee champ and my recent gun-handling skills as I train to competition shoot. It helps me be on guard when Satan comes knocking. I’m a voracious reader and can frequently be found at the theater enjoying movie marathons where my record stands at six in one day. I’m a single, never married, who loves to pour into children at every opportunity. Let me know if you have any for sale. You can connect with me on social media. https://www.instagram.com/shelleypulliam/