Legacy...will it matter that I have lived? What an awesome question. My mother passed away last week at 98 years of age. According to the funeral sermon, she left a legacy of always calling people’s attention to religion. She did so by introducing herself to everyone: “Hello. I am Frances Owens and I am a Baptist!” No matter how one received it, the statement did cause a person to wonder why that was so important to mention.
We laughed at the memories shared by family about “Frannie” over the years. It caused me to realize how I am a product of the times in which I have lived. My legacy for others will be a product of the times through which I lived. Let me give you some examples.
I was born in the 40’s and learned how to live with food and gas rationing for the war effort. To this day, I hate to waste anything. I will fix and repair rather than throw away. I fume inside when salesmen tell me to “just throw away your year old camera because it costs more to fix than replace.” My students and I use pencils and crayons to the bitter last inch hoping to save trees if nothing else!
From the 50s I learned about the comfort of home and the safe viewing of Howdy Doody and friends. To this day I teach students the seasons of the year as per Princess Summer-Fall-Winter-Spring, the daughter of Chief Thunder Thud of the show.
The 60s brought me into the reality of war, peace demonstrations, and the Jesus movement. It was the Jesus movement that led me to working with young people in a life-changing way. It was the space race that taught me to emphasize a love for science and exploration with my students.
The 70s and 80s taught me to develop a good sense of style and taste...and to “not be the first to adopt a fad, nor the last to give it up!” I learned that governments are not perfect, but are the products of the morals of the people holding the offices. Thus, I teach students to watch, listen, and learn from the world events around them. I teach them to measure things according to a reliable standard...and to not just be reactionary to that which displeases them.
The 90s brought the pain of war into my life again. I watched my son-in-law say goodbye to his wife and baby son the night he boarded a plane for the Gulf war. I was in disbelief as I heard the news of the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq...and now I was watching my son-in-law go into battle for the people of Kuwait. Today, I am teaching four young students from Kuwait whose parents are here in training.
We were in a state of shock from the attack on the Twin Towers; a sight I watched on live TV with my young students asking me “Why is this happening?” My school days began from that moment on with prayer for our country and our young soldiers.
Now, in 2016, I am faced with division in our country...politically, ethically, economically, and religiously. I am still teaching students every day. Now, I ask myself before each day of class, “Will it matter that Kay F. Johnson lived? I certainly hope so!!