The Legacy of Love

By Mrs. Lynn Klammer


One of the simplest, yet most profound, interactions I ever had with another human being came during the afternoon of an otherwise uneventful day.

I had only been married for about a year, and my mother-in-law had just – as she did countless times before – brought over some cookies and home-canned goods for my husband and myself. As she placed the jars on my kitchen counter, I thought back on all she had done for us over the previous year. If ever there was a “poster child” of Christian compassion, Helen was it. She supported every church activity, eagerly served on church committees and lent a hand wherever and whenever it was needed. She volunteered at the community thrift shop, visited the sick and infirmed, and continued to help my husband and myself. Helen had even allowed us to live with her for the first couple months of our marriage while we finalized the purchase of a house. She was unlike anyone I had ever known, and I found myself feeling uncomfortably indebted to her.

That summer afternoon as Helen turned to leave, I couldn’t help but ask, “How can I ever repay you for all you’ve done for us?” Helen briefly paused, casually smiling as she replied, “You can do the same for your children someday”… and then she was gone. It seemed almost an afterthought on her part, but those words stayed with me from that day forward.

Her words clarified that my debt wasn’t owed to Helen at all, but to the future. My mother-in-law’s parents had taught her the critical lessons of faith, family responsibility, service to others and general hard work – and when the time came, it would be my turn to pass those values on to the next generation. My mother-in-law did for us as her family had done for her, and I in turn would do for my children. Her compassionate actions were more than just the result of her feelings for her children: they were an investment in the future – a trust.

Today, as a mother of four children, Helen’s words have become mine. I struggle to instill in my children the belief that loving each other and helping others are not matters of choice, but rather a part of who we are. Christian compassion is a legacy of love that reaches out to us from our past, works through us and continues beyond us to enrich not only the lives of those around us, but future generations.

May we all cherish the legacy that has been entrusted to us and see it prosper and grow into the future.


Lynn Klammer is a licensed clinical psychologist, educator, and author. She is a member of St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church in Frankenmuth, Michigan.

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