Mother walked toward me with her hands cupped. If I were 6 and her white hair only peppered with salt, she would be clutching a doll or cookie. Since we were celebrating her 80th birthday, I was fairly sure toys and sugar were not what she was hiding.
With the mischievous grin she usually donned for her grandkids, she said, "For you" and revealed her gift.
The framed photo I had taken more than 20 years ago when she and her then new husband Doc walked hand in hand in front of me on a rainy day as we climbed a hill in the Smoky Mountains made me cry out. "Really?" was what I uttered but my own grin revealed the extent of my pleasure.
"You were always so proud of this picture and I want you to have it," she said.
I must admit I wondered if the gesture was some kind of eery foreshadowing -- like maybe she was disposing of prized possessions, knowing that there wouldn't be another opportunity. But I let got of that morbid thought fairly quickly and hugged her.
Mother was always proud of my creative side but, since she only picked up reading late in life, my writing wasn't something she kept up with. The fact that she too had valued this attempt at art on my part always made it even more precious to me.
Now, sitting in its place of honor in my Texas home, it is priceless.