Life, What a Beautiful Gift

Life, What a Beautiful Gift

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories of Faith

Life, What a Beautiful Gift

It was the first week in December. My daughter Julie and I had decided to go Christmas shopping. We have always been extra close, and I always looked forward to this special time together. We would do some “serious” shopping, go out for lunch, and catch up on what was happening in each other’s lives.

Over lunch, we discussed what gifts we would buy our relatives and friends. I always felt this was a real chore, as I was always worried about treating all five of my children equally, finding something they didn’t already have. Julie, on the other hand, is a person who always seems to find the perfect gift for everyone. Everything has to be the perfect color, the perfect size, the perfect scent! She goes back and forth, from store to store, to get the best bargain.

That day, while eating, our conversation somehow switched from Christmas gifts to life’s blessings. This made both of us think of my illness. Although I had been extremely sick several times, for the most part, I still considered myself truly blessed. In fact there had been several times when my M.S. or lupus were out of remission, and my doctor said it was indeed a miracle that I was still alive. Maybe it was a miracle, or maybe God just had other plans for me.

Realizing how lucky I was, when Julie asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I tried to tell her without ruining her Christmas spirit, that I didn’t expect or even want a present. I explained just getting together with my beautiful family was all I could hope for.

Julie looked disappointed in my reply. “Oh, Mom,” she said, “you are always so darn practical! There has to be something little you want.”

I repeated what I had said, “I have a fantastic husband, beautiful children, and now two beautiful granddaughters. I have it all! What more could anyone want in one life?” I was speaking with my entire heart. I truly felt that way. I loved my family so much that little else was important. Each day I thanked God for giving me yet one more twenty-four hours to share with them.

Suddenly, without even thinking, I added, “I know this is selfish, but you know, I really would love to have a grandson before I die! Now that would be neat!”

Julie just shook her head, and said, “I give up!”

“Well, you asked what I would like, didn’t you? I have always wanted a grandson! I love little boys! I’ll never forget how happy I was to have your brother after all you girls! Oh, I love all of you equally, that is for certain, but there is something very special about little boys! Now if you can find a way to get me a grandson before Christmas, I will take him and love him without complaining!”

“You’re impossible!” Julie added. “Let’s finish our shopping. You won’t accept a little gift, yet you ask for the world! Mothers!”

Hours later, Julie dropped me off at my house. Exhausted from shopping, I hugged her and promised to let her know if I thought of anything “easier” for her to get for me.

When I went in the house, the first thing I did was check our new answering machine for messages. The blinking red light indicated there were several.

The first message was another daughter whose voice assured me that she was concerned because I had gone away for that long without first obtaining permission! I thought it was ironic remembering the times my children had forgotten to call me when they were going to be late. Funny how time changes roles. The second message was to remind me of an upcoming craft auction at church, and the third to confirm a dental appointment. Who needed to be reminded of such things? I started to walk out of the room, when I heard the last voice, that of my husband. He sounded more than a little confused.

“Barb! Are you home? If you are home, then pick this thing up! Can’t you hear me? I need to talk to you... Q-U-I-C-K!” Frustrated, when at last he realized he was talking to an electronic piece of equipment, he lowered his voice and said, “Please, Honey, when you get home... CALL ME!”

Wow! This was so unlike the cool man I was used to! What could be wrong? I knew I had to call him back at once.

Call I did. It was not only a shocking call, but also an unplanned answer to a prayer, and that something little I had wanted for my Christmas gift. About the same time I was telling Julie that I would like a grandson before my life was finished, a young girl in a nearby town had called my husband at work to tell him that she was the mother of a little grandson we had never met! We were both in shock. This woman explained she had a brief relationship with our son, had gotten pregnant, and had a little boy who was now seven months old! She said she had pleaded with our son to tell us about the baby. However, he was afraid we would be disappointed in him if we knew, so he had made her promise not to tell.

For some unknown reason that day, she had decided that it was unfair to us to keep this grandchild a secret any longer. Since our home number was unlisted, she had called the place my husband worked and told him the story.

My husband gave me the woman’s number, and said she had told him I was free to make arrangements to meet our little grandson if I liked. Grandson! Liked? I was a doubting Thomas. I had to see for myself. I called the woman, and within an hour, I was on the way to see this baby. If she was telling the truth I had a grandson! No matter how complicated the details of his conception were, I knew I would love him. I was happy, sad, excited and tearful all at the same time.

When I arrived at the given address, I was met at the door by the woman and her other children. I sensed all of them were trying to evaluate me, and this made me feel terribly uncomfortable. My first impulse was to turn and run. Something within me told me I had to stay. I offered her my hand; she took it. She invited me inside. Walking ahead of me to a nearby table, she picked up an envelope and handed it to me. “Here are the paternity papers,” she said. “Here’s proof that Toby is your grandson!”

I had just learned something else: Her baby’s name was Toby. I questioned the baby’s last name, and I was told he had received my son’s last name the previous day in court.

Nearly collapsing, I lowered myself to the nearest chair. I didn’t realize the girl had left the room until I saw her return, carrying a little boy. She walked up to me, placed the most beautiful little baby into my arms, and said, “Son, I think it is time you meet your grandma!” Toby looked right up at me and gave me the biggest smile... I cried.

At that moment, little Toby became a very important part of my life. My son and the baby’s mother had made a big mistake. However, God himself had created little Toby, and God doesn’t make mistakes. I had a grandson! A beautiful bundle of joy! What a precious Christmas gift!

Later that evening, my husband and I had a long talk with our son. We told him we knew about Toby, and I was hurt that he could even think for a moment that his father and I could have loved him less for having made a mistake. I told him if we only love our children when they live their lives the way we feel they should, then that isn’t really love. He told me that when Toby’s mother first discovered she was pregnant, she had considered an abortion, and we cried together, thanking God she hadn’t. Later, we even laughed a little over the speedy way in which God seemed to answer my Christmas gift request!

Since then many Christmases have passed. Toby spends a lot of time with his father and with us, as well. Every day, but especially on Christmas, I am so thankful for this very special gift I received eight years ago.

~Barbara Jeanne Fisher

Chicken Soup for the Grandparent’s Soul

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