A LEGACY OF LOVE
By Melanie M. Stokes
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above he heavenly hosts,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
"The family of the deceased stood and sang these words, while a few tears were brushed away. Not only had the verse been the traditional blessing at their family Thanksgiving meal, but it was a fitting statement about Ma Huggins' life. She had praised God during an 87 year lifetime and had modeled that attitude of praise to be passed on in the family.
The first time I saw Eva Huggins was on a Thanksgiving. Engaged to marry her grandson, I was there to meet all the kinfolk at their annual family Thanksgiving reunion. I knew when Steve introduced me that there was something special about his only living grandparent. I could see it in his eyes as he joked with her and as she radiated love to everyone in the room. Not loud or flamboyant, she emitted a sense of peace about life.... and later, death.
That first Thanksgiving, my future husband took me out after lunch, on his traditional hunting event. Being rather nervous to make a good impression, I was somewhat relieved for the privacy of the woods. It began to rain lightly and we stood under a cow feed station to stay dry.
As we walked back toward the house bursting with relatives, I gingerly picked my way around a stream Steve had simply waded through. In an effort to keep my feet dry, I slipped and sat down flat -- wetting more than my shoes!
As we came onto the carport, explaining to everyone what had happened, Ma Huggins looked out the door and giggled with dancing eyes soaking up my humiliated condition. Yet, there was something soothing about her kind laughter. It was a laugh of acceptance. I got the feeling she was thinking, "Well, this city girl can get dirty after all!" From that moment on, I felt a bonding to the small, saintly grandma with silver braids wrapped around her head.
As the years passed and I did become a part of the family, I've seen Ma's influence throughput my in-law clan. Never once did I hear her say anything bad about anyone. And whenever we visited her house, her Bible and devotional books were always by her favorite chair so she could read them throughout the day. Her three children are all active in church and have raised grandchildren who continue to attend. Family reunion conversation often revolved around what's going on at everyone's church - especially with two minister grandsons.
When Ma Huggins died, the family came together in the small house at her dairy. There was grief because everyone would miss her gentle presence. Yet, peace in knowing that she was most certainly with her Savior.
During the following weeks, her three children sorted through the earthly possessions left behind. They didn't find valuable art objects or jewelry or lots of pretty clothes. Ma lived a life of simplicity, choosing to save and value shoe boxes filled with pictures of family from 1900 to the present. Scrapbooks of memory made through friendships. And old letters - I think she must have saved each one I'd written in the twelve years I had "belonged".
Sitting around the table, surrounded by their children and a great grandchild or two running through the room, her children tried to divide Ma's possessions with the fairness and loving attitude they had been taught. Ma's love remained evident. There was enough of that to go all around. A legacy of love that continues to flow through the family's next generation -- a love that springs from God.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow. . . "