Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see. ~ John Newton (1725-1807)
In 1998, my parents celebrated their 50th anniversary. One of the gifts my dad gave to my mom was a Bible, a New Revised Standard version, complete with study guides. He wrote a touching inscription to her, and it is clear that she used it, because it is stuffed with random devotionals that she saved, and she had made notes and underlined various scriptures.
I never knew he had given her this Bible until just this month, when a staff member at our church, St. Luke’s UMC, e-mailed me to say that they had found it. Apparently it had been in the Lost and Found since 2001 (there was an Upper Room from 2001 stuck between the pages). Initially, Noralyn couldn’t tell to whom it belonged (since Dad didn’t include their last name in the inscription), so she asked a long time staff member if she could figure it out. Laurie knew right away whose it was, and they contacted me.
When I picked it up, I was drawn to the words he wrote to her. Not only were they tender, but his handwriting was so familiar and strong. At the time he wrote them, we didn’t know that Alzheimer’s was slowly creeping up on him. So I studied the words and tried to see any clues in them. Was there any wobble or hesitancy? Maybe the words were a little crooked, but it’s not easy to write in a straight line when you have no guides to go by.
I was so excited about returning this Bible to Mom, and when I did, she exclaimed, “Where did you find it!!??” I told her the story, and she said she remembers the exact Sunday she left it behind in the pew. When she went back to get it, it was gone. I suppose she checked the Lost and Found, but somehow her Bible got tucked away and forgotten for 13 years. Mom said she really loved this Bible, because it included some great study guides.
Two years after Dad gave this gift to Mom, we first began to see indications that something was not right with him, and 9 long years later, he passed away as a result of the effects of Alzheimer’s. Just seeing this tangible evidence of the days when he was strong and healthy brought back memories of his presence… happy memories.
It was clear that Mom was thinking these same thoughts. She said she loved re-reading the note Dad had written to her, and said that she felt like she had received a love note and a present from heaven.
Thanks, Dad, for your thoughtfulness from 16 years ago. All these years later, we cherish it even more than we did back then. And we all really miss you…