Legacy is often thought of in financial terms. It’s the money or the property or the family heirlooms left behind when someone dies.
And while that is true, legacy is not always something you can hold in your hand.
Because legacy is what you pass down to those who come after you. That might include money and property, but it will also include words of wisdom, and even habits and attitudes that provide an example for the next generation to follow.
So what, then, is the legacy of a strong marriage?
Consider this example:
Jim and Donna Eaton married 57 years ago. They died recently when a tornado completely destroyed their home in Mt, Juliet, Tennessee. The tornado struck in the middle of the night, and the couple was found lying side by side on their mattress.
A few days later, hundreds of friends and family members gathered to say goodbye and celebrate Jim and Donna’s lives. Those who knew them best described Jim and Donna to the local papers and TV stations that covered the tornado and its aftermath.
These descriptions give clear evidence of the kind of legacy Jim and Donna leave behind.
Jim and Donna loved each other. They enjoyed being together. According to friends, they took daily walks together. And they loved their family well. Their grandson, Jake Hardy-Moore, told the local newspaper this about his grandparents.
“They showed Christ’s love and his sacrifice. They both loved our families through challenging times of life.”
Their grandson went on to describe Jim and Donna as “the ones we looked to when times were difficult, and they kept us pointed toward God…”
So as devoted parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, Jim and Donna made family a priority in good times and bad.
In addition to pointing their family to God, the Eaton’s demonstrated faith in the way they lived. Some called them people of prayer. Others mentioned their faithfulness to the church.
They were the kind of members who showed up consistently and served willingly. They sang in the choir, served at the coffee bar, visited those who were sick, and helped in the office.
The Eaton’s volunteered wherever they were needed. They were not showy. Friends described them as very humble. But they lived out faith in practical ways. And people noticed.
Another thing friends commented about was that Jim and Donna were fun to be around. They laughed a lot and were sports fans who enjoyed cheering for the Cincinnati Reds. With a close knit group of long time friends, they enjoyed regular game nights.
“To know them was to love them, “ said their pastor.“They carried with them a happy spirit, and their love for their church family was a model to all of us.”
The Eaton’s had three children, four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. So those family members observed up close what their grandson Jake called the “best earthly example of what a marriage should look like.”
Obviously, they left a legacy. And their legacy grew out of a strong marriage.
And that legacy of love, faith and joy will encourage and inspire generations to come.