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The Best Mother's Day Gift Ever

Millie Jefferson

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The Three Girls
(Courtesy Barbara Schaller)
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For the past two weeks, we've been asking you: What's the best Mother's Day gift ever? Was it a macaroni-encrusted picture frame you received back in 1989? Or something special you gave your wife on her first Mother's Day? Well, we received some great stories -- we'll start in Burnsville, Minn.:

I have received two special gifts -- one was a small pitcher that contained a floral arrangement sent by my college-aged son his first year away at school. I still have it 20 years later. The other is a glass "rose bowl" given to me by our daughter in 1999. It contains colored slips of paper (not unlike fortune cookie papers), each with her memory of a time or event involving the two of us. There are 75 slips of paper. Each begins: "Do you remember when..." Some are funny ("...When you told me oral sex didn't mean talking about sex"), some are lessons remembered ("...When I got drunk during spring break and you didn't feel sorry I had a hangover"), some recall childhood playmates ("...When you used to take me and Kari to Cleary Lake"), and some recall ordinary moments ("...When you were there when I came home from school and you had a snack for me.")

It is so very special because it involved thought, time, energy and effort to produce. I was blown away. Each shared a moment or event remembered and is a brick in the unshakeable foundation of our relationship, mortared with mutual love, affection and admiration. I did remember most of them. There is a tag attached to the bowl -- it says, "We're the girls." Now we have a third girl -- her daughter, my granddaughter, 6-year-old Sam. And "we're the girls!" We have a silly little three-part song that we sing and when one of us is absent -- We stop mid-song and say: "Wait! Where's our other girl?" And then we laugh and giggle and talk about when our other girl will be back with us.

My children are remarkable and the very best part of being a grandmother is watching my daughter be a mom. That she does it so well reminds me that I did do something right!

I read each one through tear-filled eyes, sniffling and snurfling my way through all 75 of the remembrances.

Barbara Schaller
Burnsville, Minn.

Without a doubt, my best gift on Mother's Day came in 1989. My two children, then 2 and 8- years-old, and I were learning how to be a family of three -- my husband, their father Jeff Ross, had died on February 1 of that year. I was getting ready for church and my normally active children were being unusually quiet. Then they both walked into my room carrying a very large, wrapped package. Without their dad there to assist them, I had not expected a thing for Mother's Day.

When I opened the gift I found a large photo of the two of them, Ashley and Robert, matted and framed beautifully. I had no idea where the picture came from. Then they told me the story. Church friends had secretly arranged for a photographer, who came with the antique bench used in the photo, to shoot photographs of my children on a Sunday morning, when the two of them had obviously dressed themselves. Ashley's dress was way too short and Robbie's hair was quite tousled! The friends had whisked my children out of Sunday School classes and taken them to a park-like setting behind the church, all without ever arousing my suspicions.

That Mother's Day, all three of us learned that friends can act as angels, working all around us, restoring and healing our hurting hearts. That gift brought many tears -- and still now, 19 years later, brings bittersweet memories of our hurting little family and precious friends in Houston.

Nancy Ross-Zimmerman
Cincinnati, Ohio

About five years ago, my husband I flew into George Town in the Bahamas where our friends and their sailboat, Carpe Diem, waited for us docked out from the Peace and Plenty Hotel. It was Mother's Day weekend. We anchored and when I went to bed in our V-berth, I remember the boat's gentle rocking and I felt like I was back in the womb, so safe. Being rocked as gently as my mother had once rocked me, I remembered the many hours rocking each of my three now-grown children. Mother Ocean gave me the sweetest gift: a cradled night of sweet sleep and great memories.

The experience continued the next morning when we rode the dinghy into the island to go to the tiny white church for Mother's Day. A beautiful Bahamian lady dressed in a white flowing dress and large white hat greeted me at the door with a red rose and asked if I was a mother, to which I responded: "Yes. Three times" She pinned the rose on me and hugged me and said, "It is sweet, yes?"

Well, it was. The entire experience is obviously indelible with me.

Elizabeth Cooper
Birmingham, Ala.


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