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A Mother’s Last Gift

Years after his mother’s death, one Guideposts staffer discovered a beautiful reminder of her love—and her sense of humor.
Karen and Lloyd Leveridge, on the evening of their wedding in 1954

There are innumerable small ways a mother makes her children feel special, lets them know they are loved, but some fond gestures don’t sink in until years, even decades after the fact.

My mother passed away in 2010. A strong woman of deep faith and a relentlessly positive outlook, she beat cancer twice before finally succumbing to Alzheimer’s.

When a loved one dies after suffering with a disease for a long time, it’s painful, of course, but it can also be a twofold blessing: Not only has that person’s suffering finally ended, but those who are left behind, the family and friends who cared for that person, get their loved one back, in a sense, as the memories of the debilitating final years fade away, and the strong, vibrant individual so long known and loved returns in fond recollections.

Over the years, Mom had accumulated many boxes of family photographs, a collection she had long sworn to one day organize. A true go-getter, there weren’t many things in life she left undone, but this was one task she never got around to. So I, who have a abiding interest in the past, in life as it was once was lived, set out to find some treasures in those stacks of dusty cartons full of Mom’s memories.

You see, I had never viewed a picture of my mom as a baby, as a young girl, as a teenager, nor had I ever seen images of her parents, my Grandmother and Granddad Oakes, as young parents. But finally, by quickly casting aside the many color snapshots that filled those cardboard boxes and focusing instead on the black-and-white images from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, I was able to get a glimpse of my mother’s youth, the days before my siblings and I (or even my father) had entered her life. These snapshots, which I retrieved after hours of digging, remain among my greatest treasures.

The perfect Mother’s Day Gift: Women’s Devotional Bible

A couple of years later, knowing of my interest in artifacts from the past, my aunt Linda, Mom’s younger sister, generously presented me with a stack of photographs, letters and other documents that had belonged to her parents. Among them was a birth announcement unlike any I’ve ever encountered.

Dad, a kind and gentle man and a wonderful father, was an automobile dealer . Mom, a homemaker who devoted much time and energy to volunteering, was warm and witty with a great sense of fun and a delightful sense of humor. That Dad owned a car dealership for more than thirty years provides context for the clever and affectionate announcement my folks sent out to friends and family upon my arrival in 1958. Dad was 29 then and Mom was 25, and though I’m sure my parents worked together in composing that birth announcement, my mother’s wit and sensibilities are written all over it.

Reading this announcement for the first time, more than five decades after it was written, was a eye-opening and moving opportunity for me to gain insight into what my parents were feeling when I, their second child, made my debut. I cried a little when I first read it and laughed a lot. But most importantly, I felt more loved than perhaps at any other time in my life.

To realize just how excited my parents were when I was born, to know that my birth inspired this creative project, to imagine the fun they had in composing it—it felt as if my 25-year-old mother was reaching out to me across the decades to make sure I knew that my folks viewed my arrival as a blessed event.

It wasn’t anything I ever doubted, mind you—my folks were never anything less than supremely loving and supportive—but it provided an opportunity to share one last laugh and a final warm embrace with Mom, and it’s among the greatest gifts anyone’s ever given me. I’m very pleased to share it with you; I hope it brings you a smile and perhaps even a chuckle. Mom would’ve liked that.

The inside of the birth announcement The inside of the birth announcement

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