“I have an idea,” I said to my mom. “Let’s swap Bibles. You highlight verses in mine that are important to you, and I’ll do the same in yours.”
Since Mom loved to spend time in the Word, had spent 20 years as a teacher, was always up for an adventure, and knew what I was trying to create—she jumped in with both feet.
I can’t begin to express what it means to be able to read those highlights now. While everything she highlighted in her own Bible is a treasure, those highlights in mine feel like they were specifically meant for me—to help guide me when she would no longer be here to do it herself.
Mom and I both knew she was in her final season, so we especially savored this time together, unsure of how long it would last. That’s why we focused on creating legacy treasures such as these that would remain long after she was gone.
In addition to the Great Bible Swap and similar endeavors, I started recording videos to catch her in whatever serious or fun moment she was in the midst of—and asked her to read to me so I could capture audio clips of her sweet voice. She used to read Charlotte’s Web to me when I was a kid (and I still have that well-worn copy), so listening to her read touches a particularly tender spot.
Every once in a while, I’ll be in the midst of something else and come across one of those recordings in my files—which makes me plug in my headphones, grab some tissues, hit play, and return to Mom’s room where I am sitting at her desk while she makes her way through a devotional passage she read within the last months of her life. Her voice was getting weaker then, and at one point she says, “Here, you read it. Your voice is stronger than mine.”
“No, Mom,” I replied. “It’s your voice I want to hear.”
A mother’s voice is such a treasure—and mine had been providing unconditional love, tender comfort, and godly guidance for as long as I could remember. I knew after she was gone that I would need to return to it from time to time.
Since we were blessed to have Mom live with us for so many years, I have many similarly sweet treasures she gave me that I cherish.
Dad focused on legacy, too.
My dad was all about leaving a legacy, too. As his health declined in his final season, he focused on documenting our family history and making recordings of old family home movies so we would have them to treasure in years to come.
In 2000, which is also the year he died, I was running a lot of races, and set my sights on running a marathon for the first (and only) time in my life. Dad’s health wasn’t good, and I knew we didn’t have much time left, so I wanted to pick a race we could enjoy together.
I grew up in Steubenville, in the tri-state Ohio Valley, not far from Pittsburgh. Dad had been a railroader for 36 years, so he knew everything about the area and we often drove to that beautiful city for one thing or another. So when I was deciding on a marathon to run, I picked the Pittsburgh Marathon that was to be held in May of that year.
As I knew he would, Dad checked out the race route and gave me tips about what to expect. I was still single then, and he and Mom were visiting me in Florida during that time. Each morning, when I returned from a training run, he’d be waiting on the porch to hear how things went and remind me to go get some orange juice and a banana to replenish what I’d lost in the Florida heat.
The day before the race, the three of us stayed in a beautiful hotel that overlooked the city. Dad was on a lot of oxygen by that time and used a motorized scooter to get around. Though it wasn’t easy for him, he never blinked an eye at the need to haul his oxygen concentrator and extra tanks all the way up to our room.
And when I crossed the finish line the next day (after a very long time) he and Mom were waiting there for me, cheering me on just as they had my entire life. Needless-to-say, the memories of that time are some of my most cherished during the final season with my dad.
Creating everyday treasures
The Lord could call any of us Home at a moment’s notice, which is why we must remember that every day is a gift to be embraced and treasured with those we love.
When a loved one’s health is declining, it’s easier to see how limited our time with them may be—which can help us to embrace this Golden Season™ in special ways.
But many are called Home with no advance notice, leaving their loved ones reeling with the shock of their sudden absence.
In both cases, it’s important to clearly express our love on a regular basis—and to create everyday treasures we can savor both today and in the years ahead.
Feature photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.