Dad decided to have an estate sale and clean out the old house I grew up in. Mom had died several years before and he had plenty of good reasons to clear out the contents.
The house was full of antiques he and mom had collected. He also had numerous guns and clocks to sell. There were even collector cards I didn’t know he had. Those eBay freaks went wild bidding on that stuff.
Before he let everything go, however, he told us eight children we could select one thing to keep. He also picked out something for us that he wanted us to have.
What did I pick? Mom’s writing. Anything we could find that was complete. Stuff she didn’t finish. Her two-and-a-half-inch three-ring binder full of poems. A short journal she started as she made decisions regarding cancer treatment. The package even included letters exchanged between her and Dad. And an autograph book from her high school days. It wasn’t exactly “one thing,” but Dad gave a little leeway. I guess he figured no one would bid on something like that. One of us ought to have it.
Today you get to read something she wrote on a 3×5 card. She probably wrote it some time in the 70s. I keep the card at my desk and look at it every now and then for inspiration. The words she wrote remind me so much of her, I can almost hear her speaking them.
Mom was a committed Christian. What she wrote here seems to me like “notes to self.” Maybe she kept the card handy to read as a prompt. Sort of like I do.
Here’s what she wrote on one side of that little unlined card in her utterly neat penmanship.
- Diligence–hasten to do a job well
- Faith–faith without diligence is dead. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me
- Virtue–honesty, courtesy
- Wisdom–ability to use knowledge James1:5
- Self-Control–discipline over all body appetites. A scheduling of mind, to control emotions, frustrations, etc.
- Godliness–kindness, love.
Now we are coming to the traits that show. The foundation of wisdom, virtue, and faith no one can see, but needs be in (sic) place first, then the character of godliness, love and kindness show through. Character seeks talent necessary to fulfill a task.
On the flip side of the card:
- If I have a friend, I will stick with and by them!
- I will base my decisions on right and wrong, not on how right or wrong turn out.
- I will not tamper with (pastor) or preaching. I will pray for (my pastor) every time I go to prayer.
- I will not seek riches.
- I will treat all people well no matter their station in life.
Thinking back on how Mom lived her life, I know the listed items on the “flip side” were evident in her daily practices. She always treated my friends well. I brought home some misfits like myself and we always had a good time with Mom. She treated them with dignity and they would comment on how she was a pretty good hostess. Even if she was trying occasionally to save their souls. Cookies usually accompanied the visits.
Years after the estate sale and now that my dad is deceased as well, I’m glad I asked for the writing. I knew about some of the stuff which was hidden away. But some of it came as a surprise.
As a writer, I know that what people put down using pen and paper reveals much about who they are. These days, it’s more often done on a computer. Staring at the blank page, we may be blogging about our lives. We might be sharing our thoughts on social media or journaling in private and storing our thoughts in a folder marked “Notes to Self.”
Someday, my kids will find out a little bit more about me when they discover my journals, the margin notes in a few of my Bibles and the stuff I keep in computer folders that have strange names.
Kids, if you’re reading this, look for “Miscellaneous Creations.”
Thanks so much for sharing. I never got to meet your mother, but she was so wonderful to help me with the family genealogy. I would have loved to have known her. You got the most valuable possessions in my opinion. Congratulations.
You’re welcome, Janet. It was my pleasure to write about my mom again. It doesn’t surprise me that you had a good experience with her even through letters and phone calls. I agree that I made out like a bandit on my choice of gifts.