My mother is known for her wacky gifts - usually in the form of money. She gives "shirts" as monetary gifts, which means she takes a bill, irons it, starches it, and folds it impeccably to look like a shirt, collar and all. The kids always tell her they "just want shirts" for their birthdays or Christmas, and she dutifully obliges.
Sometimes she takes MANY bills and yes, irons them, starches them, and scotch-tapes them end-to-end, then tightly rolls them up. Like any good and holy gift, there's usually a big surprise in the middle, as in a Ulysses or a Benjamin, in lieu of a chewy, chocolaty center.
"Gma (pronounced gee'-maw), you have way too much time on your hands," they usually say, joking of course. Nobody ever complains (except when she leaves and they have to pick all the tape off).
Though she's nigh on 84 years old, her medication list consists of one aspirin daily. She still drives her 1993 Jeep Cherokee up to her summer home in Wisconsin (which for tax purposes, is a "trailer down by the river") and is as healthy as one could be after sending breast cancer to hell 25 years ago and making her artificial knee a fashion statement.
But she talks now and again about "getting up a load to go" and is gradually gifting her special family jewels (not those jewels; Dad's been gone for years)! Gift-giving occasions are exciting, because you just never know what you're going to get, other than a shirt, of course.
On my last birthday, she gave me her opal ring - a gorgeous piece - made even more special by the fact that I clearly remember the day Dad and I went down to Stumme Jewelers and picked it out to give to her for Christmas. I was probably about 10. He got wise after he bought her a pair of black onyx earrings the year before, not realizing she didn't have pierced ears. Needless to say, he heard about that one. I got those earrings a couple of years ago. They had never been removed from the box.
So at Easter, I was a bit taken aback when she said she had an "announcement" and produced two envelopes, one for me and one for my brother.
"You know, I'm getting up a load to go....."
Yeah, yeah, what now?? I felt a little race in my heart. We don't do Easter gifts, so what in the world was she giving us now, there, in the presence of my entire family?
An envelope...it could be stocks, bonds, cash (that she didn't have time to fold)...
Be still, my beating heart.
She handed an envelope to me, with my full given name written out on the front.
This was serious.
"I've talked with my financial advisor about this, and he thought it was a good idea that I give you this now." She's not a wealthy woman in the monetary sense, but she's comfortable, and perhaps she found something after Dad died? I mean, something other than the turkey sandwich he hid in the dresser as he became more and more forgetful? Perhaps he had a stash that she had found??
"Open it. Hurry up. I'm so excited! I can't believe how smart I am," she said smugly.
The kids all sat with bated breath. Did I imagine the word "inheritance" being muttered? Slowly, I opened the envelope and carefully pulled out the single sheet inside. I opened it and stared. "What is it?" I asked.
"It's the deed to the cemetary plot your Dad bought when he bought ours. I want you to have it. Isn't it great? It's legally yours now!"
Because nothing says "He is risen" like your very own cemetary plot. On Easter, no less.
He is risen, indeed.
Tea tonight: Green with lemon and ginseng