The foot marks drug across the wooden floor of the aging house told their own story. They were worn by 100-year-old feet that had carried the weight of life’s battles. Uncle Manes, my grandmother’s brother, had surpassed the century mark and was still going. Every time his feet would shuffle behind his walker, the drag marks left on the wooden floor would dig in just a little deeper.

Life hadn’t been easy for Uncle Manes. His family had come directly from the old country (Switzerland, in our case). They carved a farm out of virgin Indiana woodlands. It was said that at night, many of the pioneers would sit on the porch and read their Bibles by the light of flames consuming cleared timber.

When he was 10-years-old, Uncle Manes had the responsibility of the entire farm placed on him, due to the death of his father from a farming accident. That was the beginning of a lifetime of facing life’s battles — a journey that would include the loss of a child, spouse, and his own battle with cancer — one that he successfully outlived by 66 years.

He recalled how even when the land was cleared, he drove a “stump jumper” in order to carve the farm’s first cornfield. After marrying his wife, Stella, Uncle Manes moved to LaGrange, County, Indiana, and carved into the sandy soil there with his new farm and its crops. During their family time together, they lost a child and suffered through many of life’s heartaches. Still, they never wavered in their faith. He often talked about 60 years of working a farm behind a horse and plow and compared it to following the footsteps of God who led His life and His family values.

By the age of 103, he had read the Bible as his “guidebook” year after year.

“Foot marks left behind,” we are all leaving them in one way or another. Each individual is wearing down a path that will leave traces on the hearts of generations to come. For some, those trace marks are symbolic of strong family values and heritage. For others, they represent perpetuation of hurt, abuse, or negative input.

One of the most meaningful “footstep” memories in my life occurred one time when I met one of our daughters, two years old at the time, on the sidewalk one afternoon.

She said, “Dad, can I stand on your feet?” I assured her that was fine.

Then she looked up at me and said, “there’s nothing more I want to do than walk in your footsteps.”

To this day, when that memory passes through, it brings tears to my eyes.