It may just be another coincidence, like the music playing spontaneously on my iPhone (see ”Unresolved Glitch,”), but you be the judge.
Mom had an end table that sat by her sofa for 18 years while she lived in her retirement home. In its two drawers she kept an assortment of items, including a 4×6 photo album, a small black address book, favorite greeting cards she had received, nail files, tiny tooth brushes, scissors, tweezers, playing cards, and other miscellany.
When we moved her temporarily to assisted living in 2009, the photo album disappeared along with the address book. The album contained one of a kind precious photos—early photos of her, a photo of me at age eleven walking across the “monkey bridge” at camp in Southern California, a photo of my brother in his band uniform at age 13 or 14, and others. We grieved the loss of the album and mom was frustrated that she couldn’t find the address book.
When she died two years ago, we emptied the drawers and moved the end table to our house, placing it between our sofa and recliner. In the top drawer we keep our television/stereo remotes. In the bottom drawer, I keep scissors, nail file, golf balls (to run my feet on), and other things.
A few nights ago I was searching for the receiver remote that wasn’t in the drawer. I had been working to finish the legacy book of mom’s life for the family and for my business. I wanted to listen to music while I worked.
I lifted sofa cushions and looked under pillows. When Ben arrived home he looked under cushions, lifted the recliner, and looked everywhere in the house, in case one of us had a senior moment and had transported it to another part of the house unknowingly.
I started to get ready for bed and heard Ben rummaging in the living room.
Then he said, “You’ll want to look at this.”
He had pulled both drawers out of the end table, discovering in the process that the drawers were 16 inches deep and the end table is at least 24 inches, leaving eight to ten inches of free space in the back of the cabinet.
The drawers were on the floor and next to them was a pile of papers and cards, along with the missing album and address book.
I was in awe—delighted and sad at the same time. Ah mom, I wanted to say, they were here all the time. All of it had been shoved out of the drawer into the back of the end table cabinet space, either when moving her, or in the daily process of cramming things into the drawer and then closing it.
I opened the album and there I was on the monkey bridge, my face lit with glee, my brother in his band uniform, and two photos of my mother, grandmother, brother and me at a picnic when I’m about four. It’s one of the only photos of my mother with me and my brother when we are children.
There were also cards I had given mom, in which I had written heartfelt messages that served as a reminder that I was indeed a loving daughter, and not the impatient daughter I sometimes fret that I was.
But the best was yet to come.
In the pile was a small book, The Quiet Mind. It’s a devotional, “a collection of ‘sayings’ chosen to give guidance and help with the problems and experiences of every day,” published by a nondenominational Christian church founded in 1936.
Years ago I had given a copy to a friend who still reads it faithfully, but I didn’t remember giving mom a copy, nor had I ever seen it at her house. I haven’t seen my copy in a while, either.
It’s not an Episcopalian devotional as she commonly read, so I wondered if she had read it. I took the book to bed with me and began thumbing through the pages. As I did I noticed that beside certain passages was mom’s distinctive pencil checkmark. She had not only read the book, but had marked her favorite passages throughout the book.
Did she know that I would one day read those passages again and that each passage would speak directly into my life? She had transcended the role of earthly mother to be a guide to me, directing my heart to a loving God.
The last paragraph of the book is also checked. It reads: “Happiness is the realization of God in the heart. ….”
After I had gone to bed I heard Ben say, “I found the remote.”
“Where was it?”
“Right in front of the end table under a piece of paper.”
If it had been a snake it would have bitten us.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Thank you for loving me and sending me gifts.