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TITLE: A Closet Full Of Memories
By Jim Oates

This is an excerpt from the biography, Wilma My Friend My Wife.
As I was rummaging through a closet looking for the photo album filled with honeymoon pictures, I was amazed at all the treasures (stuff) that Wilma had collected over the years. The first box was a large card board box filled with envelopes and small boxes. There were notes that she had written to herself, newspaper clippings of death notices and weddings announcements of family and friends, there were many I didnít know. I came across an autograph book dated 1948 that went back to high school days. She would have been fifteen at the time. It was filled with best wishes from school chums, aunts, uncles and cousins as well as her Mom and her brother, Carmen.

Also there were bundles of birthday, mothers day and anniversary cards. Just about every card she received from our children with special verses of love for their Mom. These always brought a smile to her lips as each envelope was eagerly torn open to reveal the precious message within the card. Even the comical cards, subliminally, oozed expressions of love for Mom. She was loved and she knew it.

As I rummaged through these memories I had to read just about every scrap of paper that I came across. I could not hold back the tears from my eyes as I looked at each one. They werenít just pieces of paper I was reading and holding in my hands; they were her. I was hearing her voice as I read. I was touching her hands as I touched and held these memories. She had held these fragments of the past in her hands. It was her hand that wrote these notes.

As I dug deeper into the closet; I came across all the report cards from grade one to grade eight. Iím sure the high school report cards are here somewhere as well. I found many booklets with spiritual thoughts and poetry. She loved to read and must have saved everything she had ever read. My dilemma is what do I do with everything?

Wilma was a craft person, she loved making wreaths, both pine cone and grape vine wreaths. She also spent hours on end in the evenings doing needle point. As her eyes began to change, I bought her a large lighted magnifier on a flexible arm. She used this when doing tiny close stitches like the French knots.

The shelves were filled with every craft book imaginable; I found seven hard cover, American Craft, five issues of Make it Yourself and thirteen issues of Encyclopedia of Crafts. These books were all chocked full of information on making almost everything from pine cone wreaths to needle point and various other crafts.

Since she loved nature, she also subscribed to the Birds and Blooms magazine. I found two or three yearsí worth of these.

Wilma loved pretty things, old or new. She had a collection of collector-wall-plates. There were mementos that held special meaning only known to her. I found several unfinished pieces of needlework. Also many finished pieces that were unframed. Iím ashamed to say, that I had promised to make frames for her but I was just too busy.

As I said previously, Wilma loved pretty things and I must admit that I contributed to her collection as, I loved to see her happy. A happy woman in the home means there is a happy man nearby. Even with all her craft stuff, her love for her children and me came first and she always found time to read her Bible.

Many times we discussed the Bible and its teachings. One time we were talking about the rapture, the time when we least expect, God will remove His children from the earth. On thinking of this passage, in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, Wilma said that she wasnít ready for this because she didnít want to leave her pretty things behind.

As time went on and as she was reading her Bible, she came to the realization that her pretty treasures were just stuff and that God has much better things for us. She still had her stuff, but it had to take a back seat.

Love came first, love for her Lord, family and friends. Everything else would have to fall in at the back of the line. She still liked her pretty things but now she had her priorities straight.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians. 13:4-7).

This beautiful bit of scripture, perfectly, describes my Wilma.
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