I can tell you what she served in every one of her serving dishes and which casseroles bubbled away in which pans. I pulled a few things out for myself and last week I cooked a pot roast in her Magnalite roasting pan, used her pale blue plastic shaker to mix flour and water for the gravy, and then poured that gravy into her small blue bowl, just like she did for us Sunday after Sunday for years. And I remember the Sunday, under her compassionate direction, we carted all that food to a neighbor whose husband had been killed in an automobile accident the night before.
I emptied a file cabinet that held a folder for every major appliance in the house, plus its manual and even the sales slip with either her or my daddy’s signature on the bottom. I found a letter sorter with “Gulf Oil” etched on it, a tape dispenser with “Gulf Credit Union” and its phone number taped to the side, and even a Gulf Oil hardhat with “Gerald Ayers” on the front of it. And I remember the people at that company who learned to respect a man who was honest in everything and whose language was pristine.
I found a recipe card collection that I remember from my early teens, which contains some of my favorite recipes. Some are printed cards with color pictures, but others are handwritten, including one for “Rice with Backbone.” Tell me where you will ever find that recipe anywhere else. In fact, tell me where you will find backbone! And I remembered all the recipes she made for company who graced our table, family, brethren, college students who loved having a home cooked meal, and the showers she hosted, the gospel sings, and the meeting preachers.
And that’s not the half of it. I found myself tearing up again and again as the memories flooded back, memories of a loving family and an extremely blessed childhood. How many times have I thanked God for the parents who raised me, who taught me right from wrong, who turned me into a responsible adult, and most of all, who taught me about God. And here is the fruit of it all:
My parents raised two daughters. Each of those girls married a godly man. Between them they raised 9 grandchildren, all of whom are Christians. Of the three married grandchildren, all married Christians as well. And now six great-grandchildren are being taught the same way we were. My parents’ progeny speaks well for them.
They were not famous. They were not influential in worldly ways. But each one of us carry memories of them that keep us on the right track, memories that inspire us and make us want to be like them. No, they were not perfect. Show me anyone who is. But they did what was necessary to raise us in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and to teach our children and those children teach theirs what they need to know to serve God.
You are creating memories for your children. One day, they will go through your things. What will mean the most to them? What will they think of when they see your signature, when they read a letter you wrote, when they pick up a bowl or a mug or even a wood-cased thermometer that used to hang in your shed by a piece of green twisted wire? What have you taught them about serving God? You have taught them something, whether you intended to or not. Maybe it’s time to spend a little more time on the eternal things.
“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children-- Deut 4:9