Today is my mom’s birthday. She would have been 69.

When I was a kid my mom taught me an easy way to remember her birthday. 12345. She was born in the twelfth month on the third day of the year 1945. 12/3/45. Or 12345. My mom has been gone for almost a decade and every year, I still remember 12345.

A few days ago, my wife asked me if birthdays and holidays are hard for me, if those days make me miss my mother even more. It’s funny but I’ve never really thought about that before. So my answer was no. I think I know why.

My mother suffered a lot. Maybe more than anyone I’ve ever really known. Toward the end of her life, she suffered a lot. Over the past decade, I’ve missed my mom a lot. I still do. But it helps to know that she probably isn’t missing me too much. And she definitely isn’t missing her suffering.

I don’t have any pictures of my mom hanging up around my house. I don’t need them. I can see her every day when I look in my son’s eyes. Before we had kids, I prayed that God would make them look like their mother. God graciously answered those prayers. But he also gave those two boys a little touch of their grandmother. And that’s okay.

My mom liked to laugh. But I don’t miss her laugh. I hear it everyday coming from my own mouth. And I hear it in her two grandsons.

My mom taught a Sunday School class for a long time. I don’t wish that she could come back to teach that class. At her funeral, I got to see a lot of the girls whose lives were impacted by the lady who had to quit teaching because her body wouldn’t let her walk up the stairs anymore. I feel her legacy when my sons ask me questions about God and the Bible. I just hope that I can leave the same kind of impact on them.

A while back I was talking to a kid who had just lost his grandfather. “It’s good though,” he told me. “I still see him. He’s still with me. He’s at the table all the time.”

Man, that creeped me out. It felt like I was talking to one of the Children of the Corn.

My mother isn’t at my table. I don’t really see her anymore. She’s not physically or even spiritually with me or living through my sons. Even if it were possible, I wouldn’t want that. Because of her faith in Christ and repentance from sin, she is with Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:21-26).

But my mother’s legacy is with me.

She left behind a legacy of godliness, laughter and teaching. That’s why I don’t wish that I could turn back time. Instead, I just enjoy the fruits of a life well spent.

We should all work to ensure that one day our kids will be able to say the same thing.