On the Wings of a Dove
Callie’s tear filled blue eyes followed the dove rising over her parents graves. She placed a single white rose between her mother and father, about where their hearts would be. Bittersweet memories overwhelmed her as she wept.
“But Momma, I want to go pick flowers.” Callie knew her mother liked a pretty table. Every day she helped set it with silverware, china, white cloth napkins, and glassware. Even here in the wilderness, Momma was stylish and genteel, respected and respectful. No one came to her table with dirty hands and no one left it hungry.
Though soft-spoken, her mother commanded obedience. “We can do without the flowers tonight, Callie. I want you to practice your letters before supper time.”
Callie needed to get to the barn to see Poppa. He was working on a special gift for Momma’s birthday. It was almost finished and she wanted to see it done. “I finished them already Momma. I promised Poppa I would help him tend the animals before supper. May I go?” Realizing she had just changed her reason for going outside, Callie blushed.
“What are you two up to?” Smiling, Callie’s mother accepted the lack of explanation. “Go on then.”
Giving her mother a quick hug and kiss, Callie grabbed her bonnet from the hook by the door. Rushing out to find Poppa, her white and brown puppy joined her in a race to the barn, nipping at her heels.
“Just in time,” Poppa smiled as she ran through the door. “You did a good job on this Callie. Your mother is going to be surprised.”
Callie ran her fingers over the smooth wood of the simple pine box. She had helped Poppa. They found the planks, sanded and put them together. Callie painted the box white. She boiled blackberries in water, strained them out and mixed in a little sand. With the gritty blue paint, she added some flowers to the lid. Searching through her sewing basket, she found some blue cotton to place inside. Placing the final item in the box, Poppa closed it.
With Poppa helping, Callie made all of Momma’s favorites for supper; fried chicken, biscuits, and gravy, followed with blackberry cobbler. Once the dishes were finished, Poppa escorted Momma to her favorite chair by the fire asking her to close her eyes. Smiling as he winked at her, Callie watched her mother’s face as she held the white and blue box.
Opening her eyes, Momma flushed with pleasure. After a few moments, she opened the box and began to cry. Callie was concerned something was wrong until she saw tears in Poppa’s eyes too. Her throat closed with the open display of emotion from her parents. Love filled the cabin. Inside the box was a special treasure, just for Momma. Something she had wanted since her wedding day fifteen years earlier.
Poppa had worked a piece of leather to softness. He bleached it with lye then using a nail and hammer, he indented the image of a dove. He secured the lovingly prepared supple white leather around a family Bible he had mail ordered. The white of the Bible against the blue fabric, gave an illusion of the dove taking flight.
Eyes shining, Momma hugged Poppa and Callie. “I don’t know what to say. This is such a thoughtful and beautiful gift. The word of God covered with a dove of peace, a symbol of hope and the gift of love everlasting. Thank you.”
Two weeks ago, Poppa became sick. Feverish and babbling, he required constant care. Momma had not been well for several months, but she pushed her pain aside to care for Poppa. Leather cracked with use and age, Momma read daily from the Bible, just as she had done nightly since she received the gift. She prayed for strength to carry on just one more day. Saturday morning, only one awoke. A few days later Poppa joined Momma for eternity.
Callie said a final prayer at the gravesite. She would miss her parents. Knowing they were together now as they always were in life comforted her. She rubbed her fingertips over the impression on the cracked white leather Bible she held and felt peace. Her sorrow lessened with every beat of the dove’s wings as she watched it flying in to the bluest of skies, becoming lost against the white clouds.
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