It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! -Mark Twain

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Frankly Phyllis

His Powerful Gift of Forgiveness

I arrived early at a restaurant to meet a friend for lunch before seeing The King's Speech. (See it, see it!) I confess I'm usually making a beeline to get somewhere, thinking about six things, but this particular day I had the leisure to notice something as I walked from my car. An older woman was turning her car ever so carefully into the lot. The expression on her face said, "Please, puh-leeze, no one pull out until I pull in!" I smiled, thinking of my mom's later years behind the wheel!

My mind raced back to sweet yesterdays when Mother would take my little sister, Joanie, and me to lunch at Marshall Field's. She would help us order from the menu and explain how and when to unfold the napkins, always in quiet tones. (I'm guessing she was more than just somewhat worried about how we'd behave!) Occasionally, Daddy would join us on his lunch hour. Fabulous fun! From those memories, my mind leaped to thoughts of taking my mom and three daughters to The Woman's Exchange in St. Louis for special girly lunches. I can still hear Mother giggling as she pretended she didn't want dessert!

As I stepped to the curb in front of the restaurant, I was startled by a sudden wave of regret. It caught me by surprise, but I remembered grumbling a bit about my mom's forgetfulness at age 89 and how I'd call her every day, only to end up having the same conversation we'd had the day before. I wished I could invite her to lunch right then. But she's not here; she's where I'll join her one day, in heaven.

This whole series of thoughts probably lasted only a minute. I whispered a prayer of thanks for my mom. I also thanked God for His loving provision of forgiveness for my moments of not-such-glad grace with her. It was a strangely beautiful moment on a curb on a cold, wintry day.

When I entered the restaurant, my friend wasn't yet there, so I went to powder my nose. (That's what my mom always said!) There I stood at the sink next to a lovely woman looking down as she wiped water off the marble countertop. I normally don't speak to strangers in restrooms, but I said, "Our mothers would be proud of us for cleaning up after ourselves, wouldn't they? I do that, too."

"Yes! When I do this, sometimes people look at me like, 'Is she nuts?' But it just seems polite," she explained. The next thing I knew, I was sharing my magic moment at the curb. How typical of women to share without hesitation! You'd think no one ever listened, by the way we bond, but it's reported to be a need to use up our words, whether anyone listens or not.

I told her the bottom line of my experience: how I'd been hit by thoughts of my mom and tearooms and then regretted she couldn't be here today and that I'd ever been anything but glad to talk with or be with her in her later years. "Was she ever grateful for what you did?" was the response from the woman whom I could now see face to face for the first time as she turned toward me.

"Not always. Are any of us always grateful?" I said.

She went on, "Well my mother can't be here either. She's in poor health, but has never been grateful for what I do."

My turn: "Funny you should mention that. Seeing an elderly woman pulling into the parking lot a few minutes ago reminded me of times with my mom, and reminded me to thank God for forgiving me for my times of grumbling. Maybe it would help if you think of loving your mom as a way of serving God. She won't be around much longer and it will help you find a peace in giving, whether she's grateful or not. For sure God is grateful. You're the work gloves on His hands, you know! Thank you for loving your mother."

She stood there, incredulous. "Thank you for what you just said. You're very encouraging!"

"You're welcome," I said.

I was so glad to have met this woman, even though it's likely I'll never see her again. God obviously directed our paths to cross in that powder room, as my New Year's resolution is to encourage the weary with words! God gave me a chance that day to feel the power of His forgiveness, and to pass along the wonder of that incredible gift to another. May He will gift you with similar opportunities!

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