As my brother and I have had to go through my parents’ stuff, we’ve had to determine what’s most important to us among all of their possessions. My parents were very simple people, not into anything fancy. They never really had a lot of expensive stuff around their house. In fact, my mom always prided herself in seeing how long she could make something last. Being a child of the depression, she would take such good care of things that those things would last significantly longer than they would for other people.
As I looked through a box that I had taken home with me the other night, I found some “treasures” that I had shared with my wife. As we sat at the kitchen table, she said to me, “It’s kind of funny the things that you value the most.” What she meant by that was that I wasn’t clinging to anything like money or expensive possessions, but instead the things that give a pretty clear picture of the character of my parents.
My father was a pastor for over 40 years, 36 of those years were spent in the same place, which is a feat in and of itself. There are three things that I have found myself drawn to out of everything that I have found. The first is a record of every wedding that my dad ever did. He wrote down the date, the place, and the names of the bride and groom in a little notebook. It’s kind of crazy to see my own name in there as well as the name of so many people who I have known over the years. As the piano player for my dad’s church for many years, I actually took part in many of those weddings over the years.
Another thing that I found was a legacy book in which he answered many questions about his childhood, his upbringing, his schooling, his pastimes, his marriage, and other questions that I would have loved to have asked him in person. I’m not exactly sure when he started answering all the questions, but I can tell you that it probably took him a good deal of time to fill out the whole book. All of the information in there is fascinating and helpful for me and I expect that my kids will appreciate a lot of it too.
The third thing that I found which will take me a long time to go through is my father’s devotional journals for about a decade. He logged the passage of Scripture that he read and jotted down a few thoughts of that passage. Interspersed through those journals were prayer lists and even some of the actual prayers that he prayed for people.
These are the things that have been the most valuable to me as I cope with the loss of my parents. These are the things that will help me to remember them for years to come. These are the things that give me (and anyone else who sees them) a clear picture of who my parents were and what kind of character they possessed. No, you can’t take it with you, but you’ve got to ask yourself, “What am I leaving behind?”