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The Gift: ( How I Got Over )

Stella is beginning to record her life story. She has asked me to edit what has been completed so far.

I am sharing her work with you ( one of 22 completed chapters) so be as critical as need be so we can help her get the work to its final outcome.

The Gift
(How I Got Over)

As a child I loved to get gift at Christmas and birthdays. But the summer I was three years old, I discovered a gift that took me a whole lifetime to appreciate.

Back in 1946, Mama and I were living in the tiny town of Texarkana, Texas. After a hot muggy day, we were finally getting to enjoy the cool of the evening. Mama cleaned up from dinner, Aunt Josephine put on a pot of coffee, and I sprawled out on the floor trying to draw a picture of my Daddy. I missed him so much. I wished I could be sitting on his knee right then, but Mama said he was far away in the Army fighting for Uncle Sam. And we might never see him again.
Just then, someone knocked on the front door. Now, usually someone would just shout to my mother, ?Mary, it?s Maxie,? or whatever, and come on in. This was obviously a stranger.
When Mama opened the door, she stood face to face with the strangest-looking man. He was short and dressed all in brown?dressed-up in ?preacher clothes.?-

Mrs. Surman,? he said, ?I?ve brought a special message for you from God. May I come in??
Now we all knew never to invite a stranger inside. But somehow Mama just stared and stammered, ?Uh, well, all right.?

Next thing I knew, he was sitting right there in Daddy?s favorite chair. ?Miss,? he said to my Aunt Josephine, ?could you spare me a cup of coffee? I?m a mite bit thirsty this hot day.?
Now it was her turn to stare. He smiled ?Now, I know you really don?t want to, but don?t worry, I?m willing to pay for it.? At that, her mouth flew open and she rushed right back to the kitchen.

Meanwhile, the messenger and Mama sat down and he began his story. He told Mama about her husband who was away in the Army, and let Mama know that he knew something personal about her.

"Elvis hasn't been faithful to you. You found out because he wrote a letter to you and one to another woman, but they got mixed up and you received hers, while she received yours. But she has not come to you about this." My Mama was only nineteen years old.

Aunt Josephine had re-entered the living room with the coffee and had heard the man. She and Mama were shocked. Aunt Josephine set the cup of coffee down while the messenger continued talking.

He continued without waiting for Mama to reply because the look on her face let him know that she believed it. "You are not a rich woman but you do have a little money and you keep it safe by wearing a money belt around your waist."

He knew he had their attention so he continued, telling them that he was from Alkadelphia, Arkansas; and that he had seven sons, and each son was exactly as he was, each able to do the same things that he could do. He told Mama he knew she had a brother whom she had not seen for some time, and that when she would hear of him again he would have died very tragically.

The messenger said the main reason he had came was because he had been sent by God to let her know her future. He looked over at me, Mama?s only child at the time, playing on the floor. I did not know or understand anything that was happening. He said, "She will be your brightest child and she will be able to understand things."

Mama was fully listening and asked, "Will she ever be successful or amount to anything?"

"It's up to her." The messenger went on to let her know that Elvis would come home from the Army and would not know how to respond to her because he would know by that time that Mama knew about the other woman.

He told Mama that if she ever saw him again and if she had a million dollars, she would give it to him and think nothing of it.

He offered to pay Aunt Josephine for the coffee but she declined. The little man arose and went to the door, said good-bye and departed.

By this time I had come close to Mama and Aunt Josephine looked up at them and smiled. Mama had many thoughts after the man departed, but kept them to herself.

Elvis indeed came home from the Army, and just as the messenger had said, he acted strangely around his wife and could never be really comfortable with her. Eventually they separated, but not before two more children, a boy and a girl, were added to the household.

I did attend church quite often after the age of three and continued at intervals until I turned to my teenage years. Mama sent my sisters and my brother and me to church all during these times.

I was thirteen years old in 1957. My sisters and my brother and I would walk around the cemetery twice because we thought that it was the amount of time the church services would last. We came home one Sunday and my Mama said to us, ?I will not try to force you to go to church again, when you get old enough to decide to go on your own, then you will know why I have encouraged you to go at you age now.?

I really didn?t attend church much after that occasion, even though I always knew even at the age of thirteen when I would go to attend a wedding or funeral that there was an emotional feeling that connected me personally to the spiritual part of life.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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