Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Legacy

The nurse pushed open the door of the ICU waiting room. The clock showed the time as 1:30 am. Quiet and cold filled the room with eeriness.

My mom sat with two friends in an otherwise empty waiting room while my dad lay in a surgical suite somewhere in the hospital. He was undergoing emergency surgery on his heart. My brother and I were in route but still hours away. We had all been told that my father likely would not survive the night.

The nurse walked to my mom's side with something cupped in her hands. "I have something to give you. I know it is special and I don't want it to get lost."

My mother could not imagine what the nurse had until she reached out and the nurse dropped my dad's wedding ring into her hand. She gasped and whispered, "He doesn't ever take it off. It's been 53 years."

"We know. We had a hard time removing it." She closed her hand over my mom's and squeezed it.

Legacy. My dad survived that night but this experience has our whole family thinking about what really matters in life. What is the essence of our life that will be left for others' to see?

I have a glimpse of my parents' legacy. They have honored their marriage vows. It was apparent to everyone in the surgical suite.

When I heard the story I knew why I always felt safe growing up. I realized that all of the work in my own marriage is worth it.

Marriage can be tough. I don't wake up every day madly in love with my husband. Those are the days that I am actually glad that love is not a feeling or an emotion but a decision--to respect my spouse and the vows I made.

I want my children and grandchildren to know that by God's grace I kept the vows I made. I want a legacy that is a blessing in my home like the one I witnessed this week in my parents. Separated by seemingly miles of corridors in a hospital in the middle of the night, their commitment was evident.

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