3: The Gift

3: The Gift

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!

The Gift

My mother is a walking miracle.

~Leonardo DiCaprio

When Hurricane Ike flooded our home in Seabrook, Texas, my family lost many possessions, but I was most saddened by the loss of my high school yearbooks. Other items could be replaced, but not the yearbooks signed by my friends, with best wishes for our future and 1970s phrases like “Love & Peace.” These symbols of my youth were gone forever.

During the aftermath of that devastating hurricane, family, friends and co-workers came to our aid, helping out any way they could. My mother, however, went beyond the desire to help. She made it her quest to replace as many of our belongings as possible from her home in Rock Falls, Illinois.

When I sent her a copy of a story I’d written about the hurricane, which was later published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Book of Miracles, she learned of my sorrow over the loss of the yearbooks. That story sent her off on a seemingly impossible quest that resulted in an amazing gift of love. She vowed to find a copy of my 1973 senior yearbook.

Finding a thirty-seven-year-old yearbook was no small feat in itself, but she was also determined to find one without signatures. She quickly spread the word about her mission and managed to track down a few copies: one at a garage sale and one from a teacher, but the pages of both were filled with signatures. This simply wouldn’t do, so her search continued.

One of my former teachers gave Mom the name of the current high school librarian. This was the lead she had been looking for. And, sure enough, the librarian had a blank copy of the 1973 yearbook.

“Do you want annuals from any other years?” the librarian asked.

Amazed at her luck, my mother exclaimed, “Sure, if you have 1970, 1971, and 1972 as well, that would be wonderful.” When she asked how much she owed for the books, she was once again surprised.

“No charge for a fellow Rocket [the Rock Falls High School mascot],” came the reply.

It seemed that fate was in her favor thus far, but her mission was not complete. Next, she set out to get four of my closest friends from high school to sign each yearbook, even traveling out of state to get one of the signatures.

Since thirty-seven years had passed, writing an appropriate message took some serious thought on the part of my friends. The signers reviewed their own yearbooks to see what I had written to them and echoed those memories in their written passages to me.

My mother was thrilled beyond measure. Unable to deliver the books in person, she carefully wrapped her prized gifts and sent them off by mail.

Of course, I had no idea that any of this was happening. All I knew was that I received a mysterious message from my mother saying that I should expect a package. Then, she called my husband and asked that he take a photo of me opening the package, so she could see my surprise.

As you might imagine, I was not only elated, but also amazed at her accomplishment. Nothing could have prepared me for four signed yearbooks.

Every person involved with her endeavor was touched deeply by this gift of love from my mother. My friend Sue recalls, “After being on the phone with your mom, I always ended up with such a warm, fuzzy feeling because she just couldn’t contain her excitement. Giving you this gift gave her such purpose and joy!”

Now, every time I look through the yearbooks, I feel my mother’s delight — her joy in giving. They are no longer a symbol of my youth but are genuine icons of her love. This unique gift from the heart touched my soul as only a mother could.

~Dawn J. Storey

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