Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Greatest Christmas Gift - Treasured Words

Yesterday I was storing some seldom used things on the very top shelf of my closet - mind you, the ceiling of my closet is ten feet high and the shelf is so high, a stepladder is needed.  As I was shoving the item up and back, a box fell off the shelf and landed on top of me.  It was an old Tampa Cubs cigar box and I couldn't imagine what it was doing there.  As I lifted the lid, I saw some old photos and a typed sheet of paper - three ring binder paper - typed single spaced on an old fashioned typewriter.  I recognized the type - the "o" never came out fully formed on that cheap little manual typewriter that I used during the 1960's.

But I had not typed it.  My heart skipped a beat when I realized what it was.  This paper had been the object of many of my thoughts over the last twenty-five years. Now, it literally dropped out of the sky into my lap.  Why now?

It was the year 1984.  My mother's last six months of life had its ups and downs - mostly downs as she had been diagnosed with non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver that year as a result of a bout of hepatitis c she had as a child.  She was now seventy-eight years old.  The cirrhosis had developed slowly over time and by the time the symptoms showed up, too much damage had already been done and she did not have long to live.   Mom was very sick - the blood to the brain was not being cleansed by the liver, so there was a lot of confusion.  Each time after a treatment though, she was very lucid and tried to relay as much information as she could to each of us.  One such day, I went over after work and she had my old typewriter out.  The ribbon was worn out and it barely worked,  but she had managed to type out a long paragraph or two.   She told me she was going to work on it a bit and asked if I would type it up neatly when she finished.  I told her I would.  It was something she wanted to give each of her children. 

Her disease caused her to squirrel away things and although she and I looked for the typed page, we couldn't find it again.  Soon after, she became ill again and passed away nine days after Christmas.  I often wondered what happened to the paper and what she had wanted to say to all of her children.

When our father died, each of us ended up with personal items that belonged to mom and dad. I vaguely remember seeing this box and I remember I wanted it because there was a photo of mom in it when she was pregnant with me - dated September 1948.  There was also a photo of mom and dad on their 50th wedding anniversary and an old recipe in her handwriting. But I never thoroughly went through it.  But here was the typed paper that we had searched for and never found, tucked away in the bottom of the box.  And here were her words:

"These words that I have on this piece of paper are not my words and are by an unknown writer, but they are words of love to live by.  I have been sick and my time is close by and I have not been able to get out and buy presents for you, so I began to look around and found these words and I am adding a few words to them.  Maybe, maybe, they will help us at a time when we need HIM most, to love God and to worship and obey Him is one of the greatest pleasures we have.  MAY GOD LOVE and protect and keep you from all harm is my daily prayer.  I love you and may you look over all my mistakes.  LOVE MOM" 

Anyone who knew how sick my mother was those last few months would marvel that she had gotten these many words out.  There was some Divine intervention that helped her put those words on paper.  Only a Mother's love.  And here are the words of the anonymous writer that she wanted to share.  The BOOK it speaks of is, of course, the Holy Bible.

THIS BOOK contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword and the Christian's charter. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object, our good is its design and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened in the judgement, and will be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents."

There were seven of us, and now there are four of us remaining children.  I wish I had found these words to share with my sister and two brothers who are gone, but the four of us who are still here will treasure these words and know that they were the last Christmas gift our mother gave to us.  No greater gift than to direct our path to God's word. 


  1. Beautiful lyrics, Christmas is endearing,
    Very beautiful pictures,
    These days I wish peace and happiness come to your house.
    Happy Holidays!.
    a hug.

  2. What a lovely find.

    Sad that you didn't find them when your older siblings were still around but a great joy to you all now at least.

  3. (sometimes I have a hard time conveying my thoughts in typed word. I hope I am not too forward here)

    The timing of God to choose now to have that box fall from "the sky". I imagine this time of year you may have been reminiscing. Maybe it is something that will impact your family greater now than before. I am so sorry that 3 of your siblings didn't get to hear and see those treasured words of guidance and love from your mom. I have a feeling though that because of her character (and yours) that they are hugging and hearing it all first hand. I can't help but imagine them all in heaven and giggling together as they watched that box fall and see your discovery.

  4. Jules, that's a sweet thought.

    How many times over the years I have fretted over that piece of paper she wanted me to type. I kicked myself over and over for not taking it that day and typing it up - then it was gone. I thought it was lost forever. For some reason, God wanted me to find it at this particular stage in all of our lives. Seeing those words that she wrote - that she prayed daily for God to protect us and keep us from harm - somehow made my life a little brighter again.

  5. Un break my blessed you are to have found that paper.

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