Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: GENEROUS (10/31/19)
TITLE: What More Could She Give?
By Mariane Holbrook
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Carefully breaking it into small pieces, she made a little pile of crumbs on a bare spot under the tree,then looked up to see the squirrel already making his way down for the snack that she'd prepared for him.
Suddenly, she heard her mother's voice, loud and stern. "Anna Christine, come here, please. Now!"
Bracing herself for what she knew was ahead, Anna hurried inside to face her mother's wrath.
"How many times have I told you NOT to feed the squirrels, birds and stray cats around the farm?
I made that cornbread for you and your sisters to eat to keep you healthy and strong. I don't want you throwing it away like that."
Anna hung her head, apologized and promised it wouldn't happen again.
But it did. Over and over again. She couldn't let the little animals starve, she reasoned.
At the one-room school Anna attended with twenty other mountain children, Anna always looked around to make sure everyone had something for lunch before she opened the meal her mother had prepared for her.
She became known for her generosity and kindness, traits that endeared her to students and her teacher.
When Anna grew up and married, she wanted to have a houseful of children. She got her wish as five daughters and two sons filled their home over a period of eighteen years.
Living in a small-town neighborhood, Anna's house quickly became the drawing card for the many children who lived nearby. Her wide front porch covered with orange trumpet vines provided a cool place for the kids to play in summer and a welcome place in winter to drink hot chocolate after snow sledding down Spring Street Hill.
But like everyone else, Anna's family suffered greatly during the Great Depression. Her husband, Harry, fell from an engine he was repairing on the railroad and broke his back. Laid off with no benefits, he was unable to make payments on his mortgage and before long, the bank took possession of their house. Anna, trying to feed her large family, frequently went without food herself and developed pernicious anemia leaving her weak and emaciated.
They clung tenaciously to their faith, never missing a service at their small church, a two-mile walk each way. The family never owned a car.
Still, Anna kept sharing what little she had. After providing for her family, she would carry food to starving neighbors or friends, especially those with small children. As a skilled seamstress, she would alter used clothing for those in need at no cost. When someone in the neighborhood or at church died, their families would bring the deceased member's clothing to Anna, who would repair, alter or completely restyle the clothes for some desperate man, woman or child to wear. She was loved by everyone for her life-long generosity, expecting no remuneration.
At church, Anna had a particular interest in foreign missions and counted many missionaries as her friends with whom she corresponded regularly. (She would in time say goodbye to two of her daughters who spent years as missionaries to the Philippines and West Africa.)
Once a year, a missionary would come to Anna's church to tell about the work being done in various mission fields. To Anna, it was the high point of the year and though sickly, she insisted on attending the services.
One night she listened intently as a missionary from Sierra Leone, West Africa described the conditions in the orphanage he managed there, the desperate need for funds to maintain the free clinic which served the community. Anna was overcome with compassion and grief. But, still coping with the lack of income during the Great Depression, Anna and Harry had nothing to give.
Before the offering was taken for the missionary's work, Anna prayed for some way to help. Finally, she whispered something in Harry's ear. He thought for a moment, then squeezed her hand, smiled and whispered one word to Anna: "Yes!"
When the offering plate appeared before them, Anna removed her gold wedding ring and with Harry's hand on hers, placed it in the plate as their offering for missions.
Anna was my mother.
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