Monday, May 12, 2008

Leaving a Legacy

A gospel music legend graduated to heaven early Mother's Day, 2008. Dottie Rambo died in an accident on her way to sing at a church service in Texas.

At this point in my life, my musical tastes lean toward praise and worship, contemporary Christian and some new gospel. But my roots run deep in Southern Gospel.

My dear friend, Tiffany, who shares my southern gospel roots, called to tell me the news. It was so ironic - check that, it was a God-thing -- that only 2 months ago Tiffany had the opportunity to meet and talk with Dottie when her tour came through our area. Meeting and talking to Dottie was something that Tiffany had on her life experience wish list. I think it's pretty cool that God let Tiff check that one off her list.

After the call, my mind drifted back to my childhood. My mother was sitting at the piano and I was standing behind her and we were singing. She had just finished writing out the lyrics and chords for the next Dottie Rambo song that we were going to sing on Sunday. We had listened to the record over and over until we had every word memorized and knew the songs backward and forward. We practiced all week long in preparation for the Sunday service. Over the years, I think we must have sang almost every Rambo song published.

As a young teenager, I remember looking wide-eyed at Dottie and Reba Rambo's pictures, listening to their music, and wanting to grow up and be just like them. But that was so many years ago, and those thoughts and memories hadn't really run through my mind much in the intervening years. So it was nice to rehash those memories again, in honor of Dottie.

Dottie. I talk like I knew her, don't I? Well, I think that I DID know her, in a way. I knew her heart and her love for Jesus through the music she wrote ... the music I sang. While here on earth, she could not possibly have known of all the little girls that sang her songs at the piano with their mothers, all the little girls who wanted the big hair-dos and the guitars, and the sheet music with their names at the top as songwriter. But now that she's in heaven, I'm sure she's hearing the stories and it must humble her to learn of the far-reaching impact her life had on people -- little girls -- that she never heard of.

As I considered how she impressed me as a youngster, I grew uncomfortable as the thought entered my mind ... who is watching me now? What does that little girl see? If she wants to be just like me when she grows up, is that a good thing? Or a bad thing? Will she talk like she knew me when I precede her into Eternity?

What kind of legacy will I leave?

In the past few years, I've tried to think about the things that I do by asking myself this question: Will this matter or make a difference in 5 years? 10 years? I think I better start asking myself that question a lot more often.

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