The Greatest Gifts

Searching through my parent’s annual Christmas letters, I came across several written by my mother. Once a newlywed with unspoken years ahead, those years became filled with nine children, many grand and great-grandchildren, until the last letter I found where she was a widow of several years in the throes of dementia with much of her posterity scattered around the country. I could see a main theme threaded through every letter which spoke of love – love of family and the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Close to the same time when this last letter was written, my daughter, Rachel, (who was named after my mother, Olivia [Libby], and my mother’s mother, Rachel), would take her Grandma Libby, out to lunch once or twice a week.

One day, during this time, Rachel excitedly came bounding into the house after she had been out to lunch with my mother. “Mom,” she beamed. “Grandma remembered me today! Well, she didn’t know my name, but she remembered I was your daughter.” Being caught up in Rachel’s excitement was a joy, yet, at the same time a pain of sadness struck my heart. Dementia will do that to you, you know – bring moments of heartache for the loss of memory and connection.

To better understand Rachel’s unique relationship with my mother; Rachel was born while our family lived in my parents’ home during the years we cared for my father. She grew up in a home where her parents and grandparents were ever present. In fact, when we would go on “family vacations” she would note our family was not complete due to the absence of Grandma and Grandpa. During our time at my parents’ h

ome, Rachel grew close to her namesake grandma.

Rachel not only carries a family legacy through her name, she also possesses a witness in the form of an annual Christmas letter from Grandma Libby showing that my mother endured to the end, filled with the love she possessed for all, and faithful to the Savior with her testimony of Him intact.

I hope my mother’s simple words written below, fill you with the Savior’s light, love for all, and hope for eternal family connections.

“I send you the greatest gift that I can offer – my Love. May it light up your way and brighten each day. But I am the blessed benefactor of far greater gifts from our Heavenly Family. Our Father gave His Begotten Son, and the Son gave his life — so that we can have eternal life.

“My earthly family, meanwhile, has given me a taste of Heaven. . .[they] are a joy and keep me smiling . . .”