Overwhelmed Beyond Words by Love
By the time I finished unwrapping, I was losing the battle to hold back tears. Sharon had bought so many presents for my birthday. I was overwhelmed beyond words
The blue teakettle, to replace the one that had long ago lost its whistle and had long ago acquired its own distinct pattern of mineral deposits, had cost at least 10 dollars. The dish drainer, its predecessor equally as old but showing its age even more than the teakettle, had cost about the same and so had the ten packs of notebook paper I used for my writing.
It was not only the cost, that had come from three long Saturdays of toil in my boss’ garage and yard, that made the presents unbearably special. Sharon had lugged everything home on foot. From our apartment, it was well over a mile to the department store.
“I had to make two trips, because the paper was heavy, but I didn’t mind, and the lady in the store was real nice. She kept the drainer and teakettle under her counter until I got back, and now you have paper for a whole year.”
I bit my lip so hard it hurt as I smiled through wet eyes.
“Now, Mommy. Come sit at the table. e have to have cake and ice-cream, you know.”
“The individual Sara Lee cheesecakes and the gourmet vanilla ice-cream cost her another Saturday,” I thought as I leaned over and patted her hand, no longer the dimpled hand of my little girl and not all that much smaller than mine.
“Thank you again, baby, so so much. You made this day very, very special. I appreciate all your hard work and how much you must have thought about everything. It’s all just totally, absolutely perfect!”
She didn’t blush, but she lowered her head, pressed her lips together tightly, and turned her head to one side.
Nothing ever tasted sweeter, or was harder to swallow, than that strawberry cheesecake and vanilla ice-cream. I struggled to get it past the lump in my throat and smile at the same time. I just wanted to hug her forever. How could she be so loving? And so generous? She was so very very young still.
Like “The Gift of the Magi”
Sharon’s generosity reminded me of the timeless tale “The Gift of the Magi”, written by O. Henry (a pen name for William Sydney Porter). In this classic tender portrayal of a young couple in love, they each sell their most treasured possessions in order to buy the Christmas gift the other is longing for but has not mentioned. (Here is a link to a delightful black and white video set in the time the story was written.) http://bit.ly/20JViID
Jim, the husband, sells his beloved watch to buy combs for Della’s beautiful hair. Della cuts her hair so she can buy her husband Jim a watch chain. Here is a link for the full text of the story. http://bit.ly/1oqiGtr
Loving, totally selfless sacrifice, given from a heart bursting with love – that was my Sharon. I was so proud of the beauty of her heart!
When I told a friend at work about it, she smiled her grandmotherly smile.
“It’s going to be hard, for both of you, when she gets to be a teenager,” Betty had said. “The two of you are unusually close.”
I’d politely thanked Betty for her concern and promptly disregarded her warning. She had never been a single mom and she had raised three boys. What could she possibly know about Sharon and me?