by Dixie Phillips (http://www.christianeditingservices.com/dixie-phillips.html), CES Editor, Writing Coach, Award-Winning Children’s Author and Song Writer
The day before what would have been my maternal grandmother’s 100th birthday, I spotted an old letter crammed in the back of a dresser drawer.
“Wow! This letter is over 30 years old,” I gasped when I saw the postmark. “And it’s from Grandma!”
I plucked the three-page letter from the tattered envelope and began reading. Immediately tears trickled down my cheeks.
Dear little Dixie,
I love you more than you’ll ever know . . .
Discovering Grandma’s letter reminded me of the power of the written word, whether a simple note or professional manuscript. Our words have power to impact the reader and keep memories alive.
Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking every time we write, it has to be something profound, but I’ve discovered more often God uses the everyday experiences of life to minister to others.
I want to share a piece I wrote about my paternal grandmother’s death. I never dreamed my “common” experience of losing a grandmother would resonate in the souls of so many, but it did, and I have had numerous requests for reprints.
Never underestimate “your” story. God may just use it to heal the brokenhearted and your words could touch a generation your eyes may never see. Keep writing.
The move from a spacious home to a small, one-bedroom apartment was devastating to Grandma Eleanor. Devastating, but necessary, because of a terminal inflammatory breast cancer diagnosis.
In her apartment complex, other women who were experiencing the same pain she was—terminal illness, limited income, loss of spouse to death or a nursing home—surrounded her. A remnant of these women formed a weekly Bible study. Grandma became a faithful member. This band of women became kindred spirits as they prayed for one another and comforted one another from God’s Word.
It became apparent by fall Grandma would not be with us much longer. Her spirit was strong, but her body grew weaker. The Sunday before Thanksgiving, she had to be hospitalized. The cancer had metastasized to her lungs and colon.
Word spread quickly among her little Bible study group that Eleanor was dying. Some had seen the ambulance take her away. Loving cards and concerned phone calls began pouring in.
Wednesday morning a knock came to her Hospice room.
“Mable, how did you get here?” Grandma asked.
“Took a cab, Eleanor. I just had to.” Mable tiptoed to Grandma’s bedside with a brown grocery sack in her arms. “It’s cold outside, but it was warm in the cab!”
“Oh, Mable, you shouldn’t have come out in this bitter cold.”
“I had to, Eleanor! Christmas is coming. I wanted you to have your Christmas card and the gift I made for you! It’s all right here in my bag.” Mable rummaged through her grocery sack, pulled out a bright red envelope, and tore it open. “Let me read it to you.”
Mable cleared her throat and continued,
“What can I give Him poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I’d give Him a lamb.
If I were a wise man, I’d do my part,
I know what I’ll give Him,
All of my heart!”
(“What Can I Give Him? by Christina Georgina Rossetti)
Tears glistened in Grandma’s eyes. “Thank you, Mable.”
“That’s not all, Eleanor. There’s more! Christmas is coming! I just wanted you to have your Christmas present a little early this year.” Mable pulled out a small package topped with a recycled bow.
Grandma was too weak to open her gift. Mable handed it to me. I gently tore the paper off the box and opened the lid. Peering back at me was a teddy bear holding a lacy parasol.
“Yep, it’s true, Eleanor! Christmas is coming, and I just had to give you your present a little early this year.” Mable reached for Grandma’s hand.
“Mable, thank you for being my friend this past year. You tell our little group good-bye for me. Thank them for all their prayers. Tell them I’ll be spending Christmas with Jesus this year.”
Tears trickled down Mable’s face and fell on her quivering lips.
“I love you, Eleanor!”
“And I love you!” Grandma replied.
Mable collapsed in my arms and wept.
After Mable left, I stood beside Grandma’s deathbed. I placed the little teddy bear on the table. I realized Grandma’s “home-going” would be soon. I looked at the teddy bear holding the lacy parasol and reread Mable’s Christmas card, “What can I give Him poor as I am?”
I realized that I had just witnessed these verses lived out before my eyes. A loving friend with meager means had given her very best. She even celebrated Christmas before Thanksgiving knowing my Grandmother wouldn’t live to see Christmas this side of heaven.
I closed my eyes and silently thanked God for giving me such a wonderful grandmother, and for giving my grandmother such a wonderful friend.
Grandma went home to be with Jesus two days after Mable’s visit. She did just what she said she would. She celebrated Christmas with Jesus!