I had to go to the circuit court last week to take care of my dad’s affairs in probate. The woman who helped me was so kind and caring. She made small talk with me and the process was much less painful than I had thought it would be. I thanked her for making it simple and she told me I should thank my dad.
The process was painless until I got outside. As I exited the building, an overwhelming feeling of loss came over me. Every last thing that I do is exactly that, the last thing. I am taking care of things for my dad for the last time and the gravity of the moment was intense.
Melancholics don’t need glum and dreary days to feel pensive. It was a beautiful day and the sun was shining. It had actually been dreary earlier on, but the skies opened up and the sun shone down as I approached Williamsburg (was there a hidden message there for me?). As I approached my car, I passed a statue of a Native American. I put some of my stuff in the car and I wanted to stretch the moment out longer. I wanted to sit in the sunshine, soak it in, sit in my sadness and let it wash over me for a few moments longer.
So, I went over to the statue to read the plaque underneath. It was Powhatan, whom the plaque said was responsible for the survival of the first settlement at Jamestown (do you think his ancestors might be pissed?). Here was this statue, life-sized, standing above all who would come within its vicinity. A man whom we read about in history books, at least if we’re from Virginia. He played an integral part in survival for many who would go on to take advantage, abuse, and steal from his tribe and many others, or at least pave the way for more to come who would do those things. But I digress. Powhatan marks that spot and that statue will be there for a long time.
The contrasting picture was my visit to the cemetery later on. As I approached the crypt where my parents are laid, the flowers were gone. There was no evidence that just a week and a half ago that crypt had been opened to receive its second guest. All that was there was a plate which still hadn’t been completed. Names. Dates. A verse. A cross. Praying hands. A saying. That’s it. No statue looming over all who would come near. No description of what these two people had done.
It seemed a little unjust to me. I didn’t know Powhatan. How could I have? He lived way before my time. But I did know my mom and dad. They had an influence on me and on many others. Could we have said more on that plate than what we did? Could we have given people a better picture of all that they had done?
Then I began to think, that’s not the job of a grave plate. That’s my job. That’s my legacy, actually, it’s their legacy living through me. I will not forget. I will remember. I will live out that legacy and let others know the contributions that they made in my life, and so will others. A statue is tall and cold, lifeless, unspeaking. I am living and breathing, proclaiming, exemplifying what was invested into me by my parents.
There is no statue, but there is me, there are my children. We are the monuments, the memorials of my parents as we live our lives through what they taught me, taught us. My parents invested into people for the sake of Jesus Christ. I invest in people for the same reason. Christ has made a difference in my life, he made a difference in the lives of my parents. It would be a crime for me not to proclaim something that has had such a significant impact on me. I am a living legacy. If you want to know my parents, get to know me. I can tell you stories, or better yet, I can live out what they passed on to me. That’s much better than anything a statue can do.