Aunt Ellen’s Legacy

Our sweet Aunt Ellen passed away last year at the grand age of 97. Because of the pandemic, we could not have a funeral for the whole family. So this year, the family had a memorial service at the church she helped found in Tennessee.

The service was lovely. We sang Aunt Ellen’s favorite hymns, read her chosen Scriptures and heard great stories of moments in her life. We met friends and heard new stories never told before.

We saw the columbarium where Aunt Ellen had been interred next to Uncle Gene. It all came full circle. Complete.

But at the reception, where four generations were gathered, I began to see the real legacy of Aunt Ellen.It was children living out the ethics, strength and humor of a dramatic mother who made a difference. It was grandchildren mirroring the teachings and remembering camping and paying cards with a very involved grandmother. It was great grandchildren running around the restaurant, playing with cousins they hadn’t seen in a long time, and hearing stories about a great grandmother they knew but maybe not very well. It was nieces and nephews making plans with cousins to keep newly revised relationships alive and well.

Family — that was the real story of Aunt Ellen. The story told over years and generations with ups and downs, laughs and cries, rain and sunshine, as all stories are.

The story was visible in one room but could not be contained in one lifetime. A legacy is very complicated and takes time. It takes commitment, love, planning and a lot of joy.

I think Aunt Ellen did a good job. Looking around at her legacy, I could see evidence of her love, commitment, humor and ethics. I saw good people laughing, telling stories, making new memories, making plans, developing their own legacies.

Aunt Ellen would be proud.

I think Aunt Ellen did a good job. Looking around at her legacy, I could see evidence of her love, commitment, humor and ethics. I saw good people laughing, telling stories, making new memories, making plans, developing their own legacies.

Aunt Ellen would be proud.

comcomplicated and takes time. It takes commitment, love, planning and a lot of joy.

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