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The Basket....A short story

Updated on March 16, 2012
The basket my Mom gave me
The basket my Mom gave me

An unexpected gift

I’m neither a greedy person nor am I materialistic. Having said that let me ask you this. Have you ever received a gift from someone that you have known all your life and you just don’t get it?

Let me give you a little background on this. I’m not a girly girl ninety percent of the time. My décor is always simple and doesn’t always match. I love to dig in the dirt and watch things grow. I love to fly fish and hunt.

My Mother and I have always given each other gardening gifts. Sometimes a tree, a bush or just herb plants for the garden. Weather permitting of course. At Christmas we usually gave each other garden tools, barbeque implements or something that we agreed upon prior to the season.

Before my Mom passed away my two brothers and I hauled our families and gifts to her house for the Christmas holiday. She lived on a five acre horse ranch in the country where we all had roots. I cooked the feast while Mom entertained and enjoyed her grandchildren and even a great granddaughter.

This year, for some strange reason I didn’t understand, she gave me a rectangle rattan basket roughly 12” x 24” and about a foot and a half tall. It was filled with towels in my favorite colors of green rolled up and snuggled tightly in the basket.

I’m not one to hide disappointment very well. I could see that when she looked at my face she knew in that second that I was confused or felt some sort of betrayal. She had kept a secret from me! I’m sorry but I’m not good at change or surprises. I was really looking forward to our usual form of gifting even though this gift was a lot more expensive than a new hand trowel or a packet of heirloom seeds.

After we had our Christmas dinner and everything was cleaned up and put away we kissed and hugged, said our goodbyes. Still in a state of confusion, I hefted my new basket of towels out to my car and drove it the 20 miles home with me and set it in my bathroom by my tub.

I looked at it from different angles and in different areas of my bathroom trying to decide where it would take up the least amount of space. I washed the towels and put them back the same way she had them. I didn’t want to use the towels because I saw them as more of a decoration than something I wanted to wear out.

After a few days of getting used to this basket on my bathroom floor I started to see the artistic value it added to my country décor. I started using the towels and even added a burgundy color of my own to the shades greens she chose. It started taking on a personality of its own and I started seeing it as a touch of class in the otherwise boring scheme I had created.

A couple of years later my son and daughter in law gave me a new granddaughter and I had acquired a beautiful baby Saint Bernard pup named Abby. Abby was the most perfect puppy anybody could ask for and I adored her. She finished at the top of her class in puppy kindergarten, she was gentle and kind with children and even wore a Santa hat and lay under the Christmas tree while they opened their gifts.

She was given a bed of her own in the bathroom by the tub because that’s where she liked to sleep, on the cool tiles. She slept next to that basket and even added some character to it by gently chewing the handle on one side like a pacifier, never actually doing any real damage. I thought that was cute but decided I better pick it up and set it on the counter unless she really decided to chew it up. I had come to love my basket.

At about the age of five months Abby had a freak accident in the back yard. She was running and playing and slipped somehow and twisted her spine in such a way that it eventually rendered her paralyzed in her hind end. We tried everything for a couple of months to keep her going but it was no use and on Valentine’s Day her doctor came out and put her to sleep in her own bed. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. As I looked into those big brown trusting eyes before they closed forever I noticed her tooth marks in my basket and loved it even more than I did before. It had her mark on it and became even more precious to me as her life slipped away that day.

My son and daughter in law lived with me in my house in the country. One weekend we decided to build a pond and waterfall and spent the majority of the day digging and shaping it. We were dirty and tired and hungry so while they got cleaned up I made dinner and watched my granddaughter who had just turned three.

We shared a meal together and as I was headed into my bathroom to take a long hot bath my granddaughter asked me to go outside and play with her. I explained that grandma was really tired from working so hard all day and needed to relax and get cleaned up.

As I was settling into my hot bubble bath I heard the door open and here came my little toe headed girl wearing my green garden gloves that were 30 sizes too big for her and carrying a Winnie the Pooh book that was about half her size. I asked her what she was doing and as she plopped her little bottom down into the towels in my basket and wiggled to get comfortable she announced that “I’m going to wead to you gamma”.

I was amazed and afraid to speak or move for fear I would do something that would interrupt this beautiful little girl. As I lay there holding my breath in anticipation of the love unfolding before me she opened her book and began telling me a beautiful story. She couldn’t actually read of course, she was only three, but she could look at the pictures in that big giant book and tell her own story the way she saw it played out and from her own experiences with her family.

I can never explain to you what a blessing I received that day, she….. Sitting in my basket of towels….or the emotion that it invoked in me. I can tell you one thing, it was one of the most special moments in my life that has played over and over in my mind through the years. I wonder, if the basket hadn’t been there would it have ever happened? Probably not. Where would she have sat?!

I lost my Mother to cancer the following summer and as I lay in my garden tub full of bubbles I reach down and rest my hand on the handle of that wondrous gift and I have to smile a little as I cry for her. Did she know, like mothers always do, that the strange gift she gave me one Christmas would become my most treasured belonging? I’d like to think she did.

Thank You Momma! Thank you so very much!

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