Monday, October 6, 2008

The Greatest Gift

by Jeri Gilchrist
I remember an experience I had with my mom as if it were yesterday.
It is one I will always cherish as I have relived it again and again over the past few months.

I have noticed at book signings a common question asked is, “How did you come up with this story?” I have a simple reply that actually has a deeper meaning than my answer conveys. I usually reply, “When we learned that my mother had cancer, I recorded as much of her life history on tape as I possibly could. This book, though certainly fictional, came from some of the stories she told me while she was a young child growing up during the occupation of Denmark during WWII.”

Each time I give that answer, my mind flashes back to the time I spent with my mom sitting around a silly tape recorder. Little did I know how much I would come to cherish the moments I spent with her as I now sit and listen to her tell me her life history on tape.

It was during one of our talks that I told her of the things I wish I could give her.
My mother, in her wisdom, told me the greatest gift you can give a person is your time.
Things break, fade, or get lost, but a person’s time can never be replaced. To be there for someone whenever he or she needs you is the most valuable gift you can give.

When I look back on memories of my mother, it’s not the things she gave me that I think of, it’s the time we spent together that is so close to my heart.

I now have a greater appreciation for the time I spend with my dad who will soon be eighty. As I look back through the years, I realize he has always had the time to be there for me. He has helped me through some of the most difficult times of my life. We have done hundreds of wood projects together, canned together, Spring-cleaned his house together, shared numerous talks over a bowl full of popcorn together and the memories continue. They are priceless to me.

There are moments that I wish I could stop time and hold them in my arms forever: marveling at the birth of my sons, looking at my husband across the alter of the Temple, listening to my sons receive Patriarchal or Priesthood blessings, watching my oldest son open his mission call and his Temple marriage, feeling grateful for my youngest son’s successful brain surgeries, and seeing him give a talk in Sacrament meeting and giving us a thumbs up from the pulpit because he did it. I have had so many meaningful moments! Even simple moments are significant; like holding hands with Brad when everything in the world seemed right.

My happiest times in life, or those that have the deepest meaning are spent with my family and friends. They are my most treasured moments as we have spent time celebrating, supporting, helping, worshiping, or reuniting with each other. Playing, laughing, crying, or simply sitting in silence watching a sunset together have come to be some of my most cherished memories. It’s in those moments when I truly realize how precious it is that we, together, have this gift of time.


Cheri J. Crane said...

Great blog, Jeri. There are indeed moments we wish could last forever. This past week, I found myself wishing the time I spent holding my tiny new granddaughter would last forever. Time spent with family and friends is a precious gift.

Jennie said...

I so agree with you, Jeri. So much of life is taken up with rushing around, yet the memories that matter, that sustain us through the hard times, are those spent with loved ones and are often the small, almost insignificant shared moments. Just yesterday a "middle child" told me one of her cherished memories of her childhood was a day when she accompanied me somewhere and on the way back I bought her a Texas doughnut just for her.

Michele Ashman Bell said...

Your blog was so poignant and sweet. I found myself reflecting on those moments I could freeze frame from the past, moments I want to cherish forever. I also found myself making a vow to be a little more generous with my time, especially where my loved ones are concerned. Your words spoke to my heart, thank you.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

What a great blog, Jeri. It made me think I need to sit with my mom and tape her memories of life as a child. Our moms were neighbors. My mom was born in Norway at the tale end of the war and her parents hid a Jewish man in their attic during the war.

I agree so much with what you said about stopping time- there've been times when I've said to myself, "I want to remember this moment forever."

Stephanie Black said...

Jeri, I really needed to hear this. Thanks so much for a thought-provoking blog!

Gale Sears said...

I have finally found my way onto the site and am reading through all the amazing blogs. Thank you for the tender rememberances of your mom and for putting forward the really important things in life.