The Legacy in Mutti’s Hands
(Mutti- a German word for momma)
“Hug me, Mutti.” I took my mother’s hand, draping her arm around my neck as I lay my head next to her on the bed. I have no idea how long I sat there. The alarm on my phone told me that it was time for the next dose of pain medicine.
I slipped mom’s hand from around my neck and whispered, “ I’m going to get your pain meds. I’ll be right back.”
It only took a few minutes to carefully prepare the dose as I had been instructed by our precious hospice nurse. But I returned to mom’s bedside and saw the unmistakeable signs of transition. Her eyebrows lifted, her chin turned up slightly, and a perfectly smooth brow. I caught my breath and reached for her hand.
Mutti’s hand, which only minutes before had been warm and soft, was growing cold. She was gone from me. I dropped everything and lay my head back beside her. Everything else was just as it had been, but Mutti was no longer there.
The countenance was too familiar. My mother, brother, and I had seen that same uplifted brow. That same up-turned chin and peaceful brow when my father passed from this life to the next just ten months earlier. His hand inside my mother’s, it was heart-breakingly beautiful.
This week many people around the world are focusing on the events of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Oh, how the world needs to hear that message!
We all have days on our calendars that are set aside. Birthdays, anniversaries, etc. The days that my mother and father left this world and moved on to the next will always be ‘set aside’ in my heart and on my calendar. I imagine they will forever be days of thanksgiving and profound, palpable loss.
During this particular Lenten season, reading the accounts of Christ’s death found in the New Testament has had a more profound effect. It’s deeper and more meaningful. You know what I mean?
No doubt, losing mom and dad so recently are a big part of that. Add to that my own brush with death, and being alive to ‘tell the tale’, it’s all affected me. The ideas of death, burial, and resurrection are all more -real.
I don’t want to focus on my parents’ final days or hours. It’s part of their story. Our story. But there is so much more to tell. There are countless memories of being truly loved and cared for. Memories of watching them live with integrity and honesty. How they lived. How they loved. How they served. They left a powerful legacy.
Let’s play a game!
Let’s pretend a friend asks you to take them to the airport and walk them to the security check. While standing there, they turn and ask you to “remember me”. What would you remember? Would you go home and tell everyone about watching them go through security, placing their items on the belt for x-ray? Would you recall the security person as he waved them through? Perhaps you would remember watching them as they put their shoes back on and headed to the gate where they would board the airplane? Maybe…
All of those are just your ‘final moments’ together. Surely you would have other things to share when talking and your friend’s name came up. What else would you remember?
Perhaps you’ve shared a funny story and laughed until your sides were sore. (I love when that happens!) Have they ever been there for you when you needed a shoulder to cry on? Ever offered advise or their own experience to help in a time of decision? Have they served you in some way? Loved you when you felt unlovable?
It’s not a game.
When Jesus asks us to remember him, he doesn’t want us to remember just the last horrible hours of his life here. Those hours are recorded for us in scripture and have serious meaning, but that’s not all there is. There’s so much more!
Look at how Christ treated the children. Remember how he commended the poor widow who gave just two small coins. Remember how he taught by telling engaging stories. That was all part of his legacy. Love in place of scorn. Acceptance rather than judgement.
Take note of the fact that there were no looks of disdain. No cutting people off from love. No harsh judgements, no angry words for people caught in adultery or who dared to touch him, leaving him ceremonially ‘unclean’. Instead, he simply said, “Go and sin no more.” and, “Take heart, daughter, your faith has healed you.”
Wow. That’s mind-blowingly different from what many experience when coming into contact with people who wear the name of Christ, who are supposed to be Christ’s ambassadors here.
If you’ve lived long enough to make some BIG mistakes, if you’ve ever sinned ’epically’, you understand the relief and the comfort of Christ’s demeanor.
Imagine the impact it would make in your little corner of the world if you remembered Jesus and honored him by treating someone else the way he would have treated them and the way he has treated you. If you’ve ever been the one who ‘really blew it’, I hope you know the comfort and relief of being loved in spite of it.
Jesus often showed love and kindness to children, what kind of relationship do you have with the neighborhood kids? Do you fuss at them to get off the lawn or do you offer a snack or ‘joke of the day’ as they wait for the school bus? When was the last time you went out of your way to offer a ride to help someone who is handicapped or aged? Jesus left a legacy of love and service. What kind of legacy are you building?
Be the hands and feet of Jesus while you have the opportunity. Because one day, as with my parents and every other soul who has died, your hands will lie still. They will grow cold and stiff. One day will be your last day to reflect the love of Jesus in this life. You will move on to the next life. Make each day here count.
“So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Rom 14:11