Memoir: Leaving a Legacy of Love

By Terry Gassett

07/05/2017

I will be 62 this month. This means a couple of things. It means that I am now living over a decade into the second half of a century, and it means that I have more time behind me than I do ahead of me. These facts are quite sobering, and I find myself thinking quite a lot lately about what type of legacy I want to leave.

When I was in my twenties, I didn’t think much about things like mortality or leaving a legacy. I was much too busy living day to day in pursuit of the next great adventure. In my thirties and forties, I was so occupied with raising my children that there never seemed to be time or energy to give much else a thought. It wasn’t until I reached my late fifties (and my once full nest was now empty), that I really began to question what I wanted to do with the second half of my life.

So I set goals, pursued dreams, and accomplished some amazing things. But that in and of itself wasn’t enough.

I remember sitting across the table from a good friend as we ate lunch at a local restaurant. With tears streaming down my face, I was confiding in her that I felt like a failure because I wasn’t where I thought I should be, either in life or in business. There were still huge gaps between where I was, and where I wanted to be, and time wasn’t slowing down.

In that straightforward, right to the heart of the matter skill that she possesses, she looked me square in the eyes as she quietly asked me, “Terry, what does success look like to you?”

My answer came just as quickly as the question and was just as straightforward.  “I would want everyone I cross paths with to feel the love of Christ through me.”

I’ve thought about her question and my answer so many times since that day. There are still huge gaps between where I am and where I want to be. Time still isn’t slowing down. While I continue to work on closing those gaps, I am more aware of time constraints and the need to be intentional about doing the things that matter most.

While none of us know when our Maker will call us home, we can all be certain He will indeed call us home. And while we don’t know how many days on earth we will have, we do know we have this day.

And this day is enough. It is enough to intentionally put my answer into practice each and every day, in ways both large and small. It is enough to treat each person I meet with respect and dignity. It is enough to extend the gift of kindness and compassion. Enough to leave a seed of encouragement with someone who needs it. Enough to express thankfulness to the people who serve me; whether that person is my husband who faithfully pours out his love for me each day or the restaurant server who brings me the menu item I ordered, or the postman or woman who delivers my mail.

This day is enough to practice showing love as a mother, Nina, friend, neighbor and human being. I don’t do it perfectly; in fact, I often fail miserably.  For, you see, if the truth be told, it is often easier for me to be kinder to a stranger than to those nearest and dearest to me. I tend to take those people for granted, assume they know I love them and often lose patience with their imperfections while expecting them to remain patient with mine. I often don’t give them the time or attention they deserve. I talk more than I listen, or I listen distractedly because my mind is tuned into a hundred other things.

Often, I am not the friend I want to be. My good intentions go unheeded, phone calls go unreturned, birthday wishes are belated.

Then there are things and people who make me completely forget the legacy I am trying to leave.

Please don’t put me behind the wheel of a car in rush hour – I turn into a completely different person! This is why I don’t display a “Jesus Loves You and I Do Too” bumper sticker on my car. I would rather not have people identifying Jesus’ kind of love with the maniac in the driver’s seat of my car.

Then there are those conversations that I, as a technically illiterate person, am attempting to have with the outsourced tech support person (whose primary language is most definitely not English). All I can say about that is: sometimes I am downright ashamed of myself, and I have had to apologize a time or two to set things right!

So I keep practicing. I keep showing up to love my family, my friends, and those who cross my path. I keep looking for opportunities to express my love, however imperfect it is, knowing that Christ’s love in me takes my imperfect efforts and perfects them and that same love covers my worst failures with grace.

I keep showing up in the world each day, practicing loving others because He first loved me.

I keep showing up in the world, practicing loving people, one person at a time, one day at a time. Because love matters. Because people matter.

And I hope that in some small way, I am able to leave people better than I found them. And that they would see a glimpse of Love that is perfect, even when mine is not.


Monthly Contributor:

Terry Gassett

terry1

Hi, I’m Terry Gassett, Jesus Follower, Wife, Mother, Nina, Life Coach, and Writer. I was born and raised in the “Deep South” and I still live and work there. I have been married to my heartthrob for over 30 years, and we have three grown children, three granddaughters (two who are twins!) and a Chi Chi/Jack Russell perpetual pup.

I am a Life Design Coach and I work with Creative Christian Women to design lives of purpose, passion, and joy!

When not listening to women’s hearts through the coaching process, I am expressing my own through writing.  Currently, I’m writing my first book – “Breathe, Just, Breathe: Breathing in the Extraordinary Gifts of God on Ordinary Days.”

     Two Drops of Ink/A Literary Blog:  http://www.heretotherelifecoaching.com

Published posts on Two Drops of Ink:

1) An Instrument of Beauty

2) Journey to Joyful Living

3) Hump Day Humor: ‘The House on Lesseps Street’

4) Fridays with MaMa’


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28 comments

  1. Dear Terry,

    I love your personal definition of success. And I love the passion and honesty that shines through your post.

    Thank you for sharing, for inspiring and for reminding us of God’s wonderful grace and patience toward us.

    There is one thing that puzzles me – what is a Nina?

    • HI LadyCee – So sorry I’ve missed your comment somehow and haven’t responded before now! Thank you for reading and for your generous comments. I too, need to be reminded of his grace and patience towards me each and every day, Nina is a term of endearment that is used instead of grandmother or grandma – It’s what all three of my sweet granddaughters call me. 🙂

      • Hello Terry – don’t worry. I read your piece long after it was published. Thank you for responding and for the explanation re Nina.
        Have a blessed day! 😃

  2. Thank you for sharing Terry. We can be so hard on ourselves. This reminds me of a scene in the movie “Mom’s Night Out” where the sweet tattoo covered motorcycle man asks the mom who’s beating on herself saying she is never enough. He asks her “not enough for who?” She stutters and ends up with the answer of a list of people ending it with God, everybody. And he graciously conveys how we are loved by God just for who we are. You are precious Terry. Keep doing what you’re doing, following His lead – it is enough.

  3. Beautifully written! Thank you Terry! Perhaps accepting our imperfection is one of the big steps in the path towards inner peace. Would that be a success? 😉

    • Thank you Shabnam! An awesome question and I think most definitely. I, however can not say I have arrived there yet. 🙂 I am well aware of my imperfections, accepting them is quite an ongoing challenge. I took a peek at your blog and was excited to see that you are writing your memoir. I am interested in reading your words, and plan to go back for a longer visit soon. I also apologize to you for my late reply. Somehow I didn’t see any of these last few comments 🙁 So glad I stumbled upon them today 🙂

      • Hi Terry, Thank you for your kind message! I appreciate your time visiting my blog.
        I can’t agree more that this is indeed a journey and a long one to accept our imperfections. living this journey and keeping our dignity is perhaps the purpose of life.
        Memoir writing is certainly helping me to gain more self-awareness and trying to accept the shortcomings I have. I am hoping to finish it soon and share my life experience with others.
        Looking forward to your visits! 🙂

  4. Asking you to define success. That was a wise question and one that we should answer from time to time. Too often we let our measuring stick be things that don’t really matter. But leaving people better than when you found them, having an affect on others. That is a great legacy to leave.

  5. Thank you for this post. I agree that the only way we can count our lives as successful is when we have been a channel through which God can bless others. I want that kind of success.

  6. Terry, I think you said what everyone feels. I didn’t have any goals or dreams in my 20’s, 30’s, or most of my 40’s. I’m now 50, and a senior at Wichita State University obtaining my English degree. I have dreams and goals now. I appreciate my family now. I lost my mom seven years ago, that was a big turning point in my life – she was only 65 when she left me. I knew I was immortal, but her leaving me so early has really pointed out my mortality. I now want to go, do, live. Thank you for your terrific post, very well said (the editor in me really likes it as well).

    • Grrrr, and the editor in me just saw my error! I knew I wasn’t immortal. It’s amazing how one small error, as in the n’t at the end of a word, can completely change the whole meaning of a sentence, and make a person look rather foolish.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting Marsha! I am so sorry your lost your Mom. It does often seem that painful events have a way of causing us to really adopt a new perspective on how we live our lives. Kudos to you on doing just that – sounds exciting! I’m sure your Mom would be proud.
      (Honored you liked my post as an editor, too). 😊

  7. Hi, Terry. Yes, yes, and yes! I certainly relate to where you’ve been, where you are now, and what needs to be done with what is left of life. We live so many different lives during this lifetime yet one thing remains constant – our consideration of others. Your post posit’s that fact from various angles, diverse situations, and several different seasons of life. Nearly every regret that one is burdened with is the result of treating someone badly, including one’s self (guilty!).

    Thank you for this exposition…way more impact with the words printed here than when I blah, blah, blah, those same words internally to myself. Your mission here was successful…I feel like you have blessed me with a personal compliment.

    We’re all individuals yet so alike in so many ways…needs to be said more often.

    Very courageous of you, young lady – lots of grit! I like it!

    • Thank you Slug! I always appreciate you reading and your thoughtful and encouraging comments! I love your line that “nearly every regret is the result of treating someone badly, including one’s self!” Such a good reminder and as a guilty party myself, I would do well to remember this sooner rather than later.
      I am glad you feel blessed as a result of reading – that blesses me! always feel blessed by your posts and hope we see some more soon! Oh and the “young lady” compliment is much appreciated!

  8. Ladies and gentlemen. I stand before you imperfect and broken. My strength comes from within it. I understand, you did, I will. Thank you Terry. You captured raw timeless emotion. Very cool post.

  9. Terry, you’ve beautifully and poignantly nailed the true definition of success. It was Love that allowed our Lord to be nailed to the cross so we could be forgiven and set free; his love is evident in you and in your writing, dear friend. Keep shining. xo
    Blessings ~ Wendy

  10. Terry, I love this post because of the truth held within it. As I age, I find the big stuff I wanted to do to change the world isn’t nearly as important as I think. And the little stuff is really the big stuff. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. Hi, Terry. I’m guilty as charged, too. I expect my family and friends to overlook my shortcomings while I bemoan theirs. So, with this inspiring post, I’ll try to be a little better today with gratitude, kindness, and compassion.

    Thank you for the reminders and know you’re not alone in the thoughts and feelings.

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