The move from a spacious home to a small, one-bedroom apartment was devastating to my grandmother. Devastating but necessary because she was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. In her apartment complex other women, who were experiencing the same pain she was; terminal illness, limited income, loss of spouse to death or a nursing home surrounded her. A remnant of these women formed a weekly Bible study. Grandma became a faithful member. This band of women became “kindred spirits” as they prayed for one another and comforted each other from God’s Word.
It became apparent by fall that Grandma would not be with us much longer. Her spirit was strong, but her body grew weaker. The Sunday before Thanksgiving, she had to be hospitalized. The cancer had metastasized to her lungs and colon.
Word spread quickly among her little Bible study group that “Eleanor” was dying. Some had seen the ambulance take her away. Loving cards and concerned phone calls began pouring in.
Wednesday morning a knock came to her HOSPICE room. An elderly woman appeared at the door. In her arms was a plain, brown grocery sack. She tiptoed to Grandma’s bedside, and stooped over the metal bedrail and planted a kiss on Grandma’s cheek. Grandma’s dark chocolate eyes danced as she recognized her friend.
“Mable, how did you get here?” Grandma asked.
“Took a cab, Eleanor. I just had to.” Mable chuckled, “It’s cold outside, but it was warm in the cab!”
“Oh Mable, you shouldn’t have come out in this bitter cold.”
“I had to, Eleanor! Christmas is coming. I wanted you to have your Christmas card and the gift I made for you! It’s all right here in my bag.”
Mable rummaged through her brown bag. She pulled out a bright red envelope.
“This one is from me to you, Eleanor!” She showed Grandma the card. The sunlight shone through the window. Sunbeams splashed on the colorful card causing Mable’s eyes to squint.
“Let me read it to you.” Mable said as she began to read aloud,
“What can I give Him poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I’d give Him a lamb.
If I were a wise man, I’d do my part,
I know what I’ll give Him,
All of my heart!”
Tears glistened in Grandma’s eyes as she whimpered, “Thank you, Mable.”
“That’s not all, Eleanor, there’s more! Christmas is coming! I just wanted you to have your Christmas present a little early this year.” Mable grinned as she pulled out a small package wrapped in previously used Christmas paper topped with a recycled, red bow.
Grandma was too weak to open her special gift. Mable handed it to me. I gently tore the paper off the small box and opened the lid. Peering back at me was a teddy bear holding a lacey parasol.
“Yep, it’s true, Eleanor! Christmas is coming, and I just had to give you your present a little early this year.” Mable squealed as she reached for Grandma’s hand.
“Mable, thank you for being my friend this past year. You tell our little group goodbye for me. Thank them for all their prayers. Tell them I’ll be spending Christmas with Jesus this year.”
Tears trickled down Mable’s face and fell on her quivering lips.
“I love you, Eleanor!”
“And I love you!” Grandma answered.
Mable then turned to me. We embraced. We wept.
I walked Mable to the door, and when I returned to Grandma’s bedside, she was fast asleep.
I placed the little teddy bear on the table beside Grandma’s bed. I wept quietly as I realized that Grandma’s “homegoing” would be soon. I looked at the teddy bear holding the lacey parasol. I reread Mable’s Christmas card,
“What can I give Him poor as I am?”
I realized that I had just witnessed these verses lived out before my eyes. A loving friend with meager means had given her very best. She even celebrated Christmas before Thanksgiving knowing my Grandmother wouldn’t live until Christmas.
I closed my eyes and silently thanked God for giving me such a wonderful grandmother, and for giving my grandmother such a wonderful friend.
Grandma went home to be with Jesus two days after Mable's visit! She did just what she said she would. She celebrated Christmas with Jesus!
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