Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Legacy of Words

Two books held place of prominence in my maternal grandparents' home. One was a dictionary, the other a Bible.

The dictionary was not your ordinary household dictionary. No mere Webster's Collegiate version, this book was huge! It was prominently displayed on a living room side table, my Poppy used it frequently. An avid crossword puzzle fan, he was unlikely to leave a puzzle incomplete with this massive resource at his fingertips. I remember being amazed at the sight of so many words. In my young mind I thought it to be as vast as the stars. Poppy's love of words and crossword puzzles were passed to my mother who also later inherited the dictionary.

I do not remember the Bible being as prominently displayed in their home but I do remember my grandmother talking about God and referencing His Word in her conversations. It was common for the discussion to turn toward Him when the women of the family gathered to prepare a meal or clean up afterward. Her Bible was in one hand, purse in the other, when she walked the dirt road from her house to church. Mommy Georgia's love of God and His Word was also passed to my mother.

She, in turn, birthed the love of words and God's Word in me.  One of my favorite memories is when the monthly Readers Digest arrived in the mail. Mom and I would first turn to the Word Power section, each write our answers to the questions and then compare to see who got the most right. Although I could sometimes tie her score, I never won. After all, she was the school teacher! She encouraged me to learn new words and to use them. I don't believe she could conceive that I would ever settle for less.

More importantly, Mom taught me God's Word. Mixed with the usual childhood stories like Hansel & Gretel, she told me stories from the Bible. As I grew, she showed me where to find these stories and encouraged me to read God's Word for myself. I heard her preach His Word as she was also a pentecostal preacher. She is the one who taught me about Jesus.

Now I find myself thinking about how I have worn the mantle of this legacy and what I am doing to pass it on to future generations. My initial response is to think they did a much better job than I have done. But when I take time to really think about it, I realize they were just like me. Parenting the best they knew how and passing on their love of words and the Word through the way they lived.

This legacy of words touched other lives beyond our family and so it continues. Whether it is in the role of parent, grandparent, or friend, by written word or spoken, I pray that I will be a worthy conduit.

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