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The Gift

BibleGiftI received a gift last night that was given to me 25 years ago.  Let me explain…

Part 1 – The Home-going

In early October, 2014, I was called by my 3 sisters and told that my mother, 87, was in the hospital and not doing well.  I had a trip to Phoenix on the calendar, so I arranged my flight to leave from Greenville, SC, in order to drive there from my home in Myrtle Beach, and visit with my mother for a few days.

I stayed with her for a couple days, taking a few hospital “shifts” that relieved my sisters who were staying with her ’round the clock.  After a 10-day trip, my plane took me right back to Greenville, where Leon and I stopped in again to see her.  This time, she was in a rehabilitation facility, learning to walk again and build up her strength in order to go home.  We took her for a short walk, spent the morning with her and drove the 5 hours home.

In just a few days, I got THE call…Mama was failing and was asking to just go home.  After some fact-finding meetings with her doctors, we decided to give her what she wanted…we took her home.  Of course, by this time, I was back in Greenville, and had no idea how long I’d be there.  My sweet daughter, Melissa, went with me, and later my husband, Leon, joined us and brought our RV and set up camp in a nearby KOA Campground.  Hospice was called, and we all just loved on Mama, enjoyed each other…and waited.

My son, Edward, flew in from Texas, and another grandson, Rikk Beemer, made the trip from Hawaii.  We all knew the end was near, as she grew progressively weaker and less lucid with each passing day.

Now, I will stop here and tell you there are 55 of us in the immediate family – counting children, spouses, grandchildren, their spouses, and the great-grandchildren.  In addition to most of this tribe, there were neighbors (she’s been in her house for 43 years), and lots of her beloved “church family.”

Most days, there was a party going on…we played instruments for her, sang, read to her, put the babies up on her bed, prayed with her, and some of us even slept on a cot next to her hospital bed; we didn’t want her to ever be alone because she was helpless by this time.

For us, the party ended on the last day of October when she took her last breath surrounded by her children and our much-loved hospice nurse, Dora.  For Mama, the party began as she was now in the presence of the One she had loved and served since she was 14 year old – Jesus, her Savior and Creator.  I’m sure she also found the love of her life, my daddy, who left us 25 years ago.  I was almost annoyed that I couldn’t see what was going on, but she was gone from my sight, and I had to accept that.

Part 2 – Mama’s Bible

Mama

During those last weeks, we read her Bible to her.  She loved the Scripture, and we knew it comforted her.  We used the Bible that she had taken to church with her – a beautiful leather-bound version with her name engraved in gold on the front cover.  I decided that was the only thing of hers that I truly wanted.  Everyone else could have everything – I just wanted the Bible.

But, as it turned out, apparently Mama had said earlier in the year that one of my sisters could have the Bible.  At least that’s what I was told that “Mama said…”  Who was I to argue?  I’m the only one who doesn’t live there, so how would I have known what “Mama said?”  My sisters saw my disappointment and being generous and kind and unselfish…they tried to give it to me in spite of what “Mama said.”  But, in my heart, I knew that Bible wasn’t mine.  After all, I didn’t even like to read the King James Version, and my sister had already taken it to her church the day before Mama’s funeral, and I knew it would be used instead of sitting on a shelf in my house.  I truly did accept that I, perhaps, had gotten too carried away emotionally, and shouldn’t have even set my heart on that Bible.

After a meaningful and wonderful celebration of her life (otherwise known as a funeral), I came home to Myrtle Beach and set about finding a “new normal” that did not include phone calls and frequent trips to Greenville to see my mother.

Part 3 – The Gift

A couple of weeks went by, and I was strangely peaceful and happy.  I spent a lot of time alone on the porch in the early mornings and on frequent breaks during the day, and even at night with a light, reading and thinking, and reflecting on the wonderful legacy my mother left me.  Although sad that I couldn’t see her anymore, I was filled with joy on a daily basis.  I hadn’t cried since the afternoon she left this earth.

Now, you’re wondering about the gift.  Here’s my account of last night, November 12, 2014:

I drank coffee too late, and couldn’t sleep.  It was 2 a.m. I wanted to read a book by C.S. Lewis (one of my favorite authors and one of the most brilliant theologians of the 20th Century).  I probably have between 2-3K books on display in my house.  Many more are in storage.  So, I began looking for the book entitled, “The Business of Heaven.”  I didn’t see it in several rooms, so I looked in my bedroom.  There, on the bottom shelf, I found it!  As I slid it out of the bookcase, I noticed there was another book that sort of “appeared.”  It was jammed all the way to the left of the bottom shelf, and the way the bookcase is made, I couldn’t have even seen it had I not removed the book sitting next to it.

It was a Bible.

Leather bound.

Gold letters engraved on the front.

I opened the cover and this is what I saw:

 

MotherBible

I had given this very Bible to my Mother for Christmas in 1978, 36 years ago.  I leafed through it and found her prayer notes, sermon notes, and one was dated 1988.  So, at some point after that, she gave it back to me.  Look at that Post-It note in the picture.  In her clear handwriting, she states:  “This Bible has been given back to Jeanne by her Mother.”

I burst into tears.  Leon walked in, found me crying, and immediately thought someone else had died. I told him, “No, I’m crying because I’m so HAPPY!”  I was also crying in relief…I had my Mother’s Bible, and that’s all I really wanted in the first place.

Then, I began to analyze this gift.  First of all, if I had given a book back to someone, even one of my kids, I may have put a note inside that said something like, “Here ya go…hope you enjoy it!”  But my Mother wrote specifically, using my name AND hers.  The way I figure it, she probably gave it to me right after my father died in 1989 (remember, her last dated note was in 1988).  That would be 25 years ago.  Why do I think it was then?  Because in 1989, I had a 3D year…Death, Divorce, and Destruction.  One of the hardest years of my life.  My father died, and my marriage of 20 years ended, and the divorce decree was signed on the day my father was buried – I noticed that later.  My firstborn child left home for college in a distant state and I felt like if I looked out any window, I might see signs of a nuclear disaster.  Leaving myself no time to grieve or process, I jumped right into a relationship and eventual marriage with Leon.  With a lot of God’s grace and our willingness to work on it, we’ve had a beautiful marriage now for almost 25 years.

I’m telling you that so you’ll see why my mother probably gave me the Bible during that time – she knew what I needed that year!

I can’t explain why I don’t remember her giving it to me.

 

With God, there is no time.  So the 25 years between my Mother’s giving and my receiving is like a blink of an eye to my Heavenly Father.  He knew then what I would need NOW, and my mother was simply the willing vessel.  That’s how she lived her life.

That’s how I want to live my life.

So, what next, God?  I’m ready to be used by YOU, and I’m keeping my heart in a listening mode.  I could see the results now or maybe never, or maybe in 25 years…only God knows.