For some reason, I vividly remember Christmas that year. Maybe it was because we had just moved to sunny St. George, Utah, or because Grandma, Grandpa, and Granny had come down to visit. Perhaps it was memorable because Jenny was visiting from BYU, or because Emily was still living at home. But I think the main reason I remember that Christmas was the unexpected gift I gave Granny—a gift I had originally intended for my family.
All year I had cross-stitched the red letters “Families Are Forever,” and just days before had finished the stick people lined in a row at the bottom of the pattern. It was a simple sampler—the kind with lines to sew over and big X’s. But I had worked on it diligently and finally had it ready for my family to open on Christmas morning. However, I wasn’t quite prepared for what happened.
Noah played Santa Claus and handed out brightly wrapped boxes with somewhat smashed bows on top. Granny didn’t have as many packages as the rest of us, so Noah handed her the family gift I had made to open. Before any of us realized what was happening, Granny began praising my work and thanking me for this keepsake. Seeing the love and excitement in her eyes, I didn’t have the heart to tell her it wasn’t hers.
I didn’t know then the happy feelings I’d later feel as I walked by its prominent place on her wall. Nor did I know that when Granny went to live in a rest home, my sampler would be one of the few possessions to go with her. I couldn’t foresee the numerous times she’d glance at it, reminded of its eternal perspective.
Time has wound down and it’s only a matter of days until Granny doesn’t wake up to the life we know. I was with her recently, and found it hard to hold back the tears as I glanced around the room to behold her keepsakes: family photos, birthday cards, and a sampler in a faded frame hanging by the door. Granny was curled in a ball softly breathing as she slept, perhaps dreaming of the heaven she’d soon know. As I rose to leave, I gently placed my hand on her shoulder, communicating the love I felt inside. I walked away, glancing over my shoulder to say good-bye.
Families are forever. I didn’t plan to give Granny my gift that year, but I wouldn’t for the world change the fact that she got it. Someday that simple, homemade sampler will have a special place on my wall, reminding me of Granny’s love, of the life she lived, and of the day we’ll meet again.