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Hugs from heaven

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By Camille McClanahan

I think we all hold onto things: a tattered baby blanket or tiny baby shoes, a fragile piece of china, a broken pocket knife or a family Bible passed through the years and through the tears, from one generation to another.

Often, these things have no great monetary value, yet they are priceless. How can that be? A baby blanket is not just a blanket, china is not just china and a broken pocket knife is not just a knife. To repeat a line from the PBS series “Lark Rise to Candleford,” it’s simple; there is “love in these things.”

When my grandfather died, all of the grandkids were given a coin from his pocket. For years, I’ve kept mine tucked away in my jewelry box. Following my dad’s death, my mother divided his red bandanna handkerchiefs between my sister and me. I made a cowboy quilt with mine. I’ve also got my grandmother’s rolling pin, with one handle missing; but that doesn’t bother me, it was guided by her hands and many delicious cream pies were started with its use.

Recently, I got what I refer to as a hug from heaven—that’s when something wonderful and unexpected happens. Hugs from heaven are always astonishing.

Traditionally, we celebrate Christmas with my mother and step father in West Virginia, the weekend before Christmas. This year, they were walloped with over 20 inches of snow—so we pushed it back. Conflicting schedules pushed it into January, but we finally crowded into my childhood home on the hill, ages from 1 to 81.

After the meal was over, gifts were opened and some had gone their way, my daughter went to visit my former brother-in-law. My sister died a few years ago and he has since remarried.

When my daughter returned carrying a small chest, she went straight to the bedroom. “Come in here,” she called to my mother and me.

The three of us stood silently as my daughter held up my sister’s jewelry box. “Shannon said he just found it,” she said. “But I think he was just now ready to let it go.”

She placed it on the bed and we picked through it lovingly—my sister’s wristwatch, with teeny-tiny pictures of her grandchildren and my grandchildren in each link of the band, her favorite bracelet, and there, in a small box, was Granny Cochran’s ring—the ring that she had given my sister, as she lay dying on her hospital bed in the living room of her trailer. When my sister died, we were told it had been stolen; so, we thought it was lost to us—like so many other things.

Yet, four years later, my daughter held it toward me and we were awestruck. “Do you care, Mom?” I asked through tears.

“No, I think you should have it,” she said.

It was then that I felt it: I had just received a hug from heaven. I was overwhelmed by God’s embrace. In the Bible, Luke 2: 19 says, “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”

Yes, there is love in these things—these handed-down bits and pieces from the ones we love—these trinkets that we hold near to our hearts. And often, when we feel like we’ve lost everything, God wraps us in his love and places one of these treasures in the palm of our hand.

(Linda Lawrence is the editorial assistant for the Grant County News. She can be reached at 824-3343 or by e-mail at gcneditorial@grantky.com.)