By John Ed Mathison
When you die, how will you be remembered? How long will you be remembered? What are the things for which you will be remembered? We refer to it as a legacy.
Two ladies died 26 days apart. They were at different ends of the age spectrum – 80 and 18. They lived at different sections of our Nation – Springfield, Ohio and Brantley, Alabama. They will be remembered for vastly different things. They each left a legacy.
Kathleen Dehmlow was 80 years old and died on May 31, 2018 in Springfield, Ohio. Her obituary was brief. It said, “She abandoned her children, Gina and Jay, who were then raised by her parents. She will now face judgment. She will not be missed by Gina and Jay, and they understand that this world is a better place without her.”
What a terrible legacy to leave. 80 years old – that’s how she will be remembered.
A beautiful young lady died Monday, June 25, 2018 in Brantley, Alabama. Alex Wilcox was 18 years old. She was the face of Brantley softball. She led Brantley to four state championships over the last five years. Following her senior year she received a scholarship to play at Mississippi State.
The doctors discovered a reoccurrence of ovarian cancer in Alex. She only played 15 games at Mississippi State. She made a tremendous impact on people in Brantley and in Mississippi. The Mississippi State softball team wore special jerseys this year to honor her influence – even though it was over a brief time. Brantley’s softball team wore a sticker on their helmets and a fake tattoo on their wrists to honor her.
I met her coach, Cindy Hawthorne, five years ago at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes family coach’s conference. I’ve spoken at that conference every year since then. Cindy and other coaches from Brantley are always there. Cindy gives a strong witness about Alex’s faith and inspiration.
Coach Hawthorne said, “We know where she is, and I just thank God for that assurance. I’m going to be with her again one day. No doubt about where she is spending eternity.” Coach Hawthorne went on to say, “Her legacy will live on until the end of time.” Her principal, Kris Odom said, “She left a legacy that will be here forever.” “Until the end of time” and “forever” defines the length of Alex’s legacy.
Her team won another state championship a few weeks ago at Lagoon Park here in Montgomery. Alex was able to attend the final game. The team requested that Alex come out and help receive the trophy. AHSAA Associate Director Tony Stallworth agreed. Alex didn’t really want the recognition, but all of her friends, coaches and family insisted. She carried the trophy out to the pitcher’s mound. In Brantley there is a street called Championship Drive that leads from Main Street to the softball complex. Alex’s picture and the state championship banners represent her legacy.
Alex was only 18. Unlike Kathleen Dehmlow, she didn’t have any children to abandon. But in a Christian sense she did have children in the faith because she had led a lot of young people to Jesus Christ. Her legacy will live on in their lives, and they will never be abandoned because they will all live together for eternity!
Two ladies – two legacies – what will your legacy be?