Thankful For A Lost Loved One's Gift

sylviatexas1November 29, 2009

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?

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This is a beautiful story. You are blessed to have those trees and to have had our uncle.

I visited my bet friend's grave for the first time this Thanksgiving weekend. She died July 11, 2005. I have not been able to visit her grave since her ashes were interred in 2006. I braced myself, drove 90 minutes, and went and saw the gravestone this weekend. I'm glad I did. She is buried in her family's plot in a beautiful spot in the hills. Her ashes, I mean. She is not buried at all - she is with me, her husband, daughter, parents, sisters and everyone who loves her all day every day.

I have several hostas she gave me over the years. I have kept the ground around them clear (no mulch) so I get "volunteers" every year. I plant her "hosta babies" to enlarge my hosta beds. I am thankful to her for those volunteers every summer.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 7:52PM
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"she is with me, her husband, daughter, parents, sisters and everyone who loves her all day every day."


& I love the fact that her hostas are still adding beauty & greenness to this world.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 4:07PM
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What a beautiful story, Sylvia. It brought back so many memories of my Uncle Paul and the stories he would tell. Only he really understood them but all the action was living on behind those eyes of his. Today my uncle's body lives on but those memories are locked away soemwhere that no one can reach.

That is a wonderful sentiment, mommabird. I darling man befriended me years ago, he gifted me with daylilies and rhododendrons that he bred. He took me under his wing and taught me, and he lives on in my garden.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 1:59PM
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I am thankful for my Mom's instructions to give me her dog when she passed away. He's the only one who licks my tears from my face, when I'm grieving over my loss. I am thankful for a letter my mom wrote to me prior to her being sick, just because she never wanted to become sick and leave us not knowing her feelings. Although we knew her feelings all along. I am thankful for all the wonderful memories she left me with.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2009 at 9:44PM
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I'm glad you got the dog!

They're the best gifts & the best friends in the world.

A homebuyer, a psychiatric social worker, told me she encourages her often vulnerable & isolated clients to have a dog.

It's nice to see that so many of us think of living things, plants, dogs, etc, when we think of gifts.
It really does keep the loved one alive for us.

& undyinglove4diana mentions another kind of wonderful gift;
the gift of having made decisions that we're in no shape to make.

Please let your wishes be known, & *put them in writing*.

It's a vast kindness we can do for the ones we leave behind.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 12:31PM
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Darn you Silvia....I got tears rolling down my cheeks. What a beautiful & uplifting story. It's always wonderfult to find something positive out of somethine 'negative' such as a death.

As I was reading your 'prose' I wanted to buy it from you to write a script for a movie. I could just envision it in my head.

Thank you for sharing that beautiful memory !!

Bonnie aka brit5467

    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 5:29AM
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