The Legacy of a Mother; My Great-Grandmother, Grannie Sammie

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As a mother, I feel constantly like I have a direct impact on the life of my tiny son. But it took today for me to see that I will not only shape his life, but I will shape the lives of many others by my actions.

Mothers, in words, thoughts, and actions, touch generations and generations of people.

My great grandmother, Sammie Patterson, passed away at 10:30 this morning. Being a writer, I have to discuss a woman as beautiful and pure as Grannie Sammie, because her inner beauty influenced the lives of countless children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. That inner beauty will touch many more in the generations that follow.

In the last 96 years, Grannie experienced famine, war, and prosperity. She saw America in all of its glory, and all of its ugliness. But despite all her experiences, she never quit her endless faith in Christ or her softness of spirit.

She once told me a tale about her younger years that I believe shows her spirit better than any other story.

She explained over a game of Scrabble (of which I was losing miserably) that when she was a young girl, she had heard a dirty word and wanted to see how it felt to say it.

Mischievously, she grinned at me as she recounted her youthful actions.

“I went into the bathroom, shut the door, and said ‘Durn! Durn! Durn!'”

Even as she was telling me her story, she lowered her voice as if it was the dirtiest word in her vocabulary.

“I felt so awful after I said it, that I never said it again. It just wasn’t part of me.” As she spoke, her smile deepened the laugh lines on her face. And a since of mischievous beauty made the smile contagious.

I giggled at her silliness.

Only a soul as beautiful as her’s can feel horrible after saying such a word. A word many, including myself, would hardly consider “dirty”.

Grannie was not only soft in spirit, but humble graciousness filled her soul.

I have, in my lifetime, been gifted with $270 from Grannie Sammie. That would be $10 for every birthday I’ve ever had. And I’m only one of dozens of great grandchildren.

Sometimes the card would be a month or two late with a scribbled, “I’m sorry this is late…” But it was always in my mailbox. It made it to my mailbox as a child. My mailbox at college. My mailbox in Dallas at my aunt’s home. And my mailbox in where we lived for the last five years.

Boy will I miss that 28th birthday card.

I don’t know how she always found where I lived, took the time to gift me with a card and check for $10, and still make me feel special miles and miles away, but I know that it brought a smile to my face every year to know that I was worth the effort.

And this effort wasn’t lost on her other descendants.

Grannie has, at this moment, 22 great-great grandchildren.


Let that sink in.

Her influence as a mother will directly touch those twenty-two individuals, their mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, and great grand mothers and great grand fathers. That’s a lot of people.

What makes Grannie Sammie even more special is this: She was so very proud of every, single one on her descendants. Not for a moment, not even a second, did she not remember and love each individual.

The last time I spoke to her, she proudly told me about how many great-great grandchildren she had. She began naming them, and telling me about each family unit. How they were doing, where they lived, and who just had babies. I was blown away by her ability to remember so many names and locations, but I was also amazed by her obvious love for every member of her family. No one escaped that love. It reached across states and back into her heart. Her family was the joy of her life.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with it’s passions and desires. If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit.”

Galatians 5:22-25

I cannot think of a verse that better describes Grannie Sammie. No one will ever say of her that she did not walk in the Spirit. Her fruit showed every day of her long, blessed life. It shows in her children. Her grandchildren. Her great grandchildren. And it will continue to show in the generations that learned to live their life all passed down from one classy lady.

There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus smiled at her this morning and said, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

And she probably answered him with a soft smile, and grabbed his hand gently in joy as he led her through the gates to meet those she loves that went before her.

We love you, Grannie Sammie. And your life will not be lost on the generations you graced the world with. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for your inspiring life of love. Thank you for the generations of influence you left on us.

To the rest of my readers, remember that you will have a legacy one day. What you leave behind is the most important gift you give the world. Large amounts of money leave grief, large plots of land leave feuds, but a beautiful life leaves a legacy.












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