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One of my Facebook friends posted a picture of their child receiving a tricycle on Christmas day, evoking a memory of my deceased eldest daughter and a Christmas long ago.

We were living in a small town in Arkansas, where Jeff had his first preaching job. Funds were tight and the town was relatively far from any large city with shopping options. There was a five-and-dime/hardware store in town. You don’t see them much anymore, although Yanceyville, North Carolina had one when we moved here – it has since closed. The Walmarts, Dollar Generals, and Family Dollars put them all out of business.

Anyhow, the store had a large shelf around the top of the walls on which items that were not big sellers were displayed. I spotted a pink tricycle, perfect for my three-year-old daughter. The store had Christmas layaway, and I put the tricycle on layaway and paid a few dollars each week.

Christmas came, a cold and cloudy one. Mary was thrilled with her tricycle and, of course, wanted to ride it immediately. We had a concrete porch outside the back door with four or five stairs leading down to the back yard. The porch was small, but it was covered. I put Mary and her small tricycle on the back porch, thinking, “She won’t try to go down the stairs.”

Well, she did. I looked out, and she was on the sidewalk below the stairs, on the tricycle, peddling away. To this day, I have no idea how she managed to ride her tricycle down the stairs unharmed.

Mary’s guardian angel proved itself useful several more times. In the spring, my mother visited us in Arkansas. We had purchased and installed a swing set, one popular at the time with a ladder across the top, stairs on one end, a slide on the other, and a swing. Next to the kitchen was a rather large dining area with a picture window. My mother looked out and, in her typical non-Christian way, swore and said, “Oh (expletive) look!” Mary was walking across the top on the ladder. I knew if I yelled, she might fall. My mother asked, “What are we going to do?” I told her to turn around, took her hand, and said, “We are going to pray.”

I led a prayer, we turned around, and Mary was on the ground playing. Did she go down the slide or did her angel take her safely to the ground? Again, I have no idea.

When Mary had her fatal accident, I was blessed with knowing she was with God. One of the young men who responded to the accident in the (unneeded) ambulance said the accident site was uniquely quiet, “. . . almost as if angels were around.”

Christmas is a time to remember family, those here and those we no longer have with us. I am blessed to include in my family Mary’s four beautiful daughters. Thanks to her, I also have a “daughter-in-law” to love, the wife of Mary’s first husband, and their two children, a boy and a girl. Mary’s first husband became and still is a faithful Christian. And I have Mary’s second husband’s family to spend vacations with, also Christians.

It never ceases to amaze me how frequently I see God’s pattern, the meshing and matching of our lives. The way my Facebook friends are connected in ways I never knew, their lives reflecting my own in their loves and losses. Especially at this time of year, I rejoice in their friendship and the strength I see in each of them.



02/21/2017 2:02am

I have read that there is a child who received a tricycle and it really made her happy. We all want to have gifts that will surprise us and will be that remembrance to keep in our heads. This must be remembered at all times and must be written in a notebook.


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Susan Box Mann, Writer