When I subscribed to newspapers, I would clip columns that struck my emotion d’jour. I would pin some on the bulletin board on the end of the kitchen cabinet, the same bulletin board on which hung school art, snapshots, and the calendar marked with band concerts, church events, games, meetings and who was hosting which holiday. Some of the clippings went straight to a file folder, some took the living room table tour ending in file 13 within a week. A few were carried in the purse until purses were switched. I still have a yellowed and frail clipping on Martha and Mary of Biblical fame with many, many stick-pin holes in it.
Today I called a cousin I hadn’t seen or talked to since ’93. She is one of the officers of The Hoornstra Society. Hoornstra is my mother’s mother’s maiden name. I had an old copy of the ancestry and descendancy book and thought I might need an update. After a long reminiscent catching up chat, she forwarded me to the president of the society to order an updated book. After that getting-to-know-you conversation and where to send the check, I picked up where I left off with the Family Tree Maker training video.
As I tucked the name and address of the lady with the book in the file, I noticed a red envelope labeled “clippings and funeral notices found in A.J.Brock’s bible.” The second folded up clipping had nothing to do with family or genealogy in general. It was an Erma Bombeck column I had clipped and carefully saved way back, who knows when. How it got into the bible of Honey’s great-grandfather’s brother is anyone’s guess. Had it not, it wouldn’t have survived all our moves.
Erma impresses me again after all this time and I quote: (Get a kleenex box.)
A vision of how a mother of handicapped is selected
Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit.
This year, nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen?
Somehow I visualize God hovering over earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As he observes, he instructs his angels to make notes in a giant ledger.
“Armstrong, Beth, son. Patron saint, Matthew.
“Forrest, Marjorie, daughter, patron saint, Cecelia.
“Rudledge, Carrie, twins, patron saint–give her Gerard. He’s used to profanity.”
Finally, he passes a name to an angel and smiles, “Giver her a handicapped child.”
The angel is curious. “Why this one? She’s so happy.”
“Exactly,” smiles God. “Could I give a handicapped child a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel.”
“But has she patience?” asks the angel.
“I don’t want her to have too much patience, or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off, she’ll handle it.
“I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I’m going to give her has his own world. She has to make it live in her world, and that’s not going to be easy.”
“But, Lord, I don’t think she even believes in You.”
God smiles. “No matter. I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness.”
The angel gasps, “Selfishness? Is that a virtue?”
God nods. “If she can’t separate herself from the child occasionally she’ll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn’t realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a spoken word. She will never consider a step ordinary. When her child says ‘Momma’ for the first time she will be present at a miracle and know it. When she describes a tree or a sunset to her blind child, she will see it as few people ever see my creations.
“I will permit her to see clearly the things I see–ignorance, cruelty, prejudice-and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing my work as surely as she is here by my side.”
“And what about her patron saint?” asks the angel, his pen poised in mid-air.
God smiles. “A mirror will suffice.”