Yesterday was a rather surreal day. It was one of those days where God was working behind the scenes but revealed enough of Himself to let me know He was there. I'll preface with a little history....
The year was 1976. I was a freshman in college and dirt poor. All college students are, right? Mother's Day was coming up and I wanted to give my mom something special but had no money. So I wrote her a poem. Hokey....yes. But it was from the heart. Really. I typed it up on my little manual typewriter (there were no word processors back then) on several half-sheets of onion skin typing paper and taped them all together to make a scroll. She loved it.
Flash forward to 1997. Mom has just died and my sisters and I are standing in her bedroom trying to absorb her lingering scent, touch her clothes, handle the pretty figurines on her dresser...anything to connect with her somehow while her essence is still in this room. In a few short hours we will go to her calling hours with my dad.
I open the top middle drawer on her bureau and there I find a bunch of letters and notes and cards all held together with a rubber band. Some letters from my dad, a note to the tooth fairy from my little sister, various cards from over the years.....and my little scrolled poem from that Mother's Day 21 years before. I read it through my tears and clutch it to my heart. The words I'd penned meant even more now. Now that I was a mother myself. Now that she was gone.
I stuff it quickly in my purse because we are late and head off to the funeral home. I think of putting the little scroll in with her in the casket but decide to keep it. Between viewings we head off to a restaurant with the aunts and uncles for dinner. It is there that I realize it is gone! I call the funeral home frantically and ask them to check for it. I go through the restaurant with a fine tooth comb. I search my car. It's nowhere and in the delicacy of my grief at that moment I feel utterly crushed. That night I drive back to the parking lot of the restaurant and search with a flash light. Nothing. It's gone. Forever.
There was reporter in our local paper at that time named Carol Ritter. She wrote a folksy column about everyday happenings and often specialized in helping her readers locate things. An old recipe, a certain antique...stuff like that. So I write to her and plead my case. Could she please ask her readers to watch out for my little scroll if the found it? And if someone had found it - could they please send it back to me? She didn't answer my letter so after a week or so I called and left a message. I received a call back on my answering machine the next day. Very curt and to the point. "I don't do last and found anymore." For several years after that, I couldn't look at her picture next to her column without being a little mad.
Flash forward another thirteen years. Last month I am at my organization's annual fundraising gala. Because I am one of the key staff members, hubby and I are seated at the table with the guest speakers. One of the speakers, who does the auction part of the evening is none other than- Carol Ritter! All of the memories come rushing back. Here I am sitting face to face with this woman and I want so bad to tell her about my little scroll. And how she could've helped but she didn't. But I don't. Because that was so long ago and I know she wouldn't remember anyway. Besides, I'd come to terms with the fact that the words I'd penned those many years ago were lost and it really wasn't her fault. So I'm cordial and I smile and make small talk. But the little scroll has once again found a way into the corners of my mind and I think of it...and mom.
So now it's yesterday. I am cleaning out some stuff in the basement in anticipation of our future move. I lug out my old hope chest that has not been opened in over 16 years - since the last move. It's all dusty and musty but I plod through it and spend way more time than I need to - handling all it's contents gently as I revisit the past. Old corsages from proms...love letters from the guy I almost married....pay stubs from my first job back in 1973 (I was making $1.65 an hour!)...lots of loose pictures....notes scratched on napkins......matchbooks....a notebook with magazine pictures taped to its pages of furniture that I wanted to decorate my house with when I married aforementioned boyfriend. Ghastly stuff in lime green and orange! (it was the 70's - what can I say?)
Then way back in the corner of the bottom drawer I find a wad of notebook paper all crumbled up. There are two sheets and one is torn in half. Something I must've meant to throw away at one time but decided not to and stuffed it into the hope chest. As I gently unroll the wad I see that it is the rough draft of the poem I'd written for mom 34 years ago! It was all there - every line! I thought I'd never see those words again! Reminiscent of the last time I came across that poem - I clutch the wad of paper to my heart and whisper a thank you to God.
The surreal part of it all....that after all these years I'd run into Carol Ritter again and think about the poem once more. That this would all happen so very close to Mother' Day....and that I would find my precious poem....on the eve of the anniversary of Mom's death. You see, she went to be with Jesus 13 years ago today. And I miss her so very much.
So here's the poem. A little hokey (like I mentioned) but I was only 18....
A Prayer for Mother's Day
Not a day goes by I do not pray
And thank the Lord above
For the mother that he's given me
Her thoughts, her words, her love.
I thank Him for the way she has
Of making each day brighter
Understanding all my cares and fears
So that my burdens might be lighter.
And I thank Him for the times we have
To sit and talk a while
Whether arguing or whispering
Through tears or through a smile.
And then I'll sit and think a bit
Of How she'll give and never take
How she'll do it in her children's names
and for her children's' sake.
Then I'll think of all the worries
And the problems she must bear
But there's always time enough for us
Time enough to care.
And she never seems too busy
Never seems too worn
To lend an ear or helping hand
Whenever I'm forlorn.
She'll just look at me and smile
And then through loving eyes
She'll answer all my questions
All the who's - the what's - the whys.
And I'll just sit and listen
When all at once I'll see
There's not a greater friend in all the world
As this woman here by me.
For there's no one I trust more than her
In who I can confide
And know that through the thick of it
She'll be ever at my side.
No one else could be so patient
No one else could be so true
No one else could ever understand
The way that mothers do.
So I'll repent for all the wasted times
In vain I always fought her
And will remember always God
She's my mother - I'm her daughter.
And though others may spend all their lives
Searching the whole world round
The mother that they're looking for
Has already been found.
And maybe when she read this
She'll cry and make a fuss
But that's just another of her special ways
Of saying she loves us.
And I can't think of a better time
Or a better way to say
How very much she means to me
Than on her special day.
So here's to a Happy Mother's Day
May God hold you in his palm
And may you never have to ask me
Just how much I love you, Mom!