Opal’s husband, Jim, was devastated by her disability. Both his business and his health suffered as he devoted his days and nights to her care. The rest of the family, including her daughter, helped him whenever possible.
One day Jim decided to take Opal for a drive. He dressed her, transferred her to the wheelchair, and loaded her into the car. Opal had always loved shopping for collectibles—especially old dishes—before her strokes, so Jim took her to one of her favorite antique shops.
As they wheeled through the store, she became animated at the sight of a white enamel coffeepot with red trim. “Is that what you want?” he asked her.
She wagged her head and groaned “Ahhh” in a response he guessed was a yes. He bought the enamel pot and loaded her back into the car. As they neared home, he asked if she wanted to visit their daughter. Once again, she seemed to indicate
Jim wheeled Opal up to their daughter’s door with their purchase. When she responded to their knock, he handed her the brown bag. “I’m guessing she wanted me to give this to you.”
Puzzled, his daughter opened the bag and pulled out the white enamel coffee pot with a cry of surprise. Tears welled in her eyes as she realized what this gift signified. She joyously threw her arms around Opal’s neck as Opal cooed and wagged her head.
Jim stood there, puzzled.
Finally their daughter shared the secret. Before her strokes, Opal collected old white enamelware with red trim for her daughter’s kitchen. The coffeepot was a piece she did not already have. Jim hadn’t known his wife and his daughter had been working on the collection together.
For one sweet and precious moment, a broken mother and her shattered daughter were reunited. For one moment, the woman that was, reached beyond the woman she had become to connect with someone she loved.
Opal was my mother.
That day in my kitchen, Mom gave me a gift far greater than the one she and my father brought home. She taught me to respect every life, even when it comes in a damaged package. She showed me how to give space to what I don’t understand
and to treat all people with the dignity they deserve. Without a word, she spoke volumes on how to live and how to die and how to treat others along the way.