Thankful For A Lost Loved One's Gift
A gift is a funny thing;
It doesn't have to be money.
It doesn't even have to be something that they leave for us on purpose, like something mentioned in a will.
It doesn't have to be big;
you know, like the movies where somebody gets a "Christmas Wish" & changes her entire life & history, well, it doesn't have to be like that.
It can be free, & accidental or serendipitous, & small, & it can mean the world & we can be deeply thankful for it.
My Uncle Sterling (unbeknownst to me because I wasn't there at the time) was the brother to whom his siblings turned for advice.
He was Papa's (his father/my grandfather) favorite;
he was my father's wiser older brother.
Then Sterling joined the Army during WWII & was shipped overseas, & my grandparents got that dreaded telegram, "missing presumed dead".
Nearly a year later, he was found in a hospital in England, unable to remember how he got there.
When he got back to Texas, he planted trees.
He planted a pine tree & a bunch of pecan trees at his parents' place, & they all grew (Sterling had a green thumb; my grandmother *never* planted anything; she'd get Sterling to plant it!)
but he never was the same as he had been before the war.
By the time I came along, Sterling was the brother who lived with Mama & Papa & worked odd jobs in construction because he couldn't do anything else.
Had he been a soldier today, we'd know he couldn't stand the stress, we'd call it PTSD, & we'd be kinder to him.
but I adored him.
When I was *tiny*, he'd carry me from my parents' house to my grandparents' house (nearly a block!) for supper.
& he'd spend hours with me, sitting on his mother's sofa telling me stories about the postcards & photos in that big box that usually stayed in a spare bedroom.
In the autumn, I'd pick up pecans from under those trees, & Sterling would shell them for Granny to make pies.
Sterling died in 1962 in a construction accident, & my parents, who had moved away, moved back & built a house on the lot across the street so they could help my grandparents.
Two of Sterling's big pecan trees stood on that lot.
I climbed them when I was a girl,
& I climbed a ladder & put a baby mockingbird back in his nest, & got pecked in the head for my trouble, when I was a teen.
During the 60's, I stood on the big lowermost bough in my mini-skirt, striking a "Mod" pose, & had my mother take "fashion" shots (for my model's portfolio!)
The years rolled by, & my grandparents died & their house was sold;
then my father died.
When my mother got so frail that she couldn't go outside, my brother set up a bird feeder under the trees, & she'd sit at the window & watch the birds & squirrels.
Then one day about 14 years ago, she called me & asked me to come rake her yard.
so I drove 55 miles & raked that yard, & when I asked her what she wanted me to do with all the pecan leaves, she said, "Throw 'em in the trash!"
You just can't say something like that to a dedicated, semi-obsessed gardener!
I stuffed them into my Corolla & drove them back that 55 miles & used them for mulch in the garden.
& on Thanksgiving Day I ate the first pecans from the first crop produced by the trees that grew from from that mulch, from pecans dropped by my Uncle Sterling's trees.
It brought a whole world back to me.
This Thanksgiving season, what gift from a lost loved one comes to your mind?