Continue the legacy of those who have passed

December 01, 2011|Lisa Prejean

While taking the Thanksgiving turkey out of the oven last week, I was overcome with a wave of nostalgia.

My thoughts turned to past holidays and huge family gatherings. The longing for those times set my mind in motion.

What if all the loved ones in our family who have passed away could be present for just one more meal? I'd love to sit around the table with them again. Oh, how I would love that mealtime conversation.

What would my loved ones say? How would I respond?

Then a thought struck me: What would they have me continue?

What part of their life's work would they consider undone?

I started making a mental list of the priorities I saw in their lives. What did they talk about the most? What seemed to please them?

I was overcome by the blessings that have flooded my life by knowing so many incredible people.

The principles they lived by day in and day out made such an impact on me.

  •  Unity —  If I close my eyes, I can almost hear my Grandfather Clarence pray for the family to work together in unity and love for one another. Thoughts of him served as a reminder that preferences are just that — things I prefer. It's not that hard to give up something in order to bring happiness to someone else. That's often where unity and peace begin.
  •  Hospitality —  Family meals always were a treat around my Grandmother Thelma's table. She made sure everyone was happy and that everyone had enough to eat. She had a way to make each person feel special.
  •  Service — If someone had a need and it was within my Grandmother Virginia's means to fulfill it, the need would be met. It was a matter of what ought to be done and letting others know that she cared.
  •  Frugality — If there was a deal to be had or a penny to be saved, Grandfather Roger was on top of it. He taught me a lot about being a good steward of what I've been given. I'm sure he would have wanted us to get the best deals on groceries for the Thanksgiving meal.
  •  Lightheartedness — If anyone ever was the life of a party, that title certainly could be bestowed on my father-in-law Johnny. He was always laughing and joking. He made me smile.
  •  Perseverance — Did you ever have a friend whose can-do attitude made you feel as if you could accomplish any goal? That is one of the things I miss the most about my friend Carrie. She made me feel like together there was nothing we couldn't do. Thoughts of her still spur me on today.
  •  Encouragement — If taking an interest in other people's lives is an artform, my cousin Todd had that down to a science. He could work a room. By the end of the evening, he knew what was going on in everyone's life, good or bad, and he had just the right words to offer for any situation.

Do I miss these precious ones? Absolutely. Sometimes I miss them so much that I ache.  

The best way to pay tribute to them is to pick up where they left off and reach out and connect with others.

Saying goodbye to loved ones is never easy, but we can celebrate their memories through the choices we make.

How can you keep your loved ones' memories alive?

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to her at

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