You may recall the blog I wrote a year ago about a woman I had met, Gwynieth, who was dying of cancer. She was a lovely woman who gave handmade angels to people she met wherever she would go. She lost her graceful battle a couple of months after our visit but not without touching my heart and the hearts of every person she met.
About a month ago, I received an invitation to have lunch with her two daughters whom I have never met. I was so moved by these beautiful, kind, loving women and their great big hearts. Jeanie, who authored the following introduction, was battling cancer at the same time her mother was dying from it. Jeanie would go in for treatments and hand out the very same angels her mother had given to so many as she fought for her own life. The angels to give to strangers were not the only gifts passed to her daughters. Gwynieth also gave her children courage, resilience, and strong faith.
I asked Jeanie and her sister to write the intro for this month’s newsletter to give us an update on what life has been like without their mother for the last nine months. But even more so, I wanted to honor an angel that still walks amongst us as her legacy continues through the thread of her daughters and those precious, handmade angels.
May you find joy in this beautiful holiday season and be blessed with an abundance of love and peace in the coming year!
From Jeanie: Since Mom went to her heavenly home to be with our Lord and Savior, at times it seems like a lifetime that she has been gone. At other times I can’t believe she has been gone for over eight months. This holiday season has already been very difficult. As I put up my Christmas tree, I so lovingly put the angel on top, the angel Mom put on her tree for many, many years. Of Mom’s Christmas belongings, I also have her nativity scene and a wall hanging her mother made for her when I was very young. It is a simple decoration made from egg cartons, and she always hung it with so much love in her eyes, as I did this year.
After her passing, I decided I had to continue Mom’s legacy of giving out her paperclip angels. Every day as I went for my radiation treatments, I gave one to every nurse, doctor, and fellow patient. What I learned from giving out those simple angels is why my mom gave out thousands: to see how those little angels made people feel. It lifted them up in a time of need. We went from being strangers to caring about each other as we sat and waited for our turn to get the “burn” from the radiation. Mom lived in St. James, Minnesota, and I was doing my radiation in St. Louis Park, MN, many miles from St. James. One lady I gave an angel to said that her mother had one. Come to find out, my mom gave her mom one!!! As I said, Mom handed out thousands, and they are in many different countries as well.
My hardest days are the holidays and special days like birthdays and anniversaries. But days when I have something I want to share with her, like good news that I know would make her smile, are especially hard for me. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to call Heaven? For my birthday this year, I played my voicemail of Mom singing “Happy Birthday” to me.
I know Mom is with my dad. I know she is in a better place. I know she is happy in her new home, but I still miss her daily. I turn my sadness to happiness when I thank God for the 64 years I was blessed to have her as MY MOM.
Thank you, Jesus, for giving me parents who raised me to know and love you – our living, loving Lord. I have been truly blessed.
Jeanie Johnson, proud daughter of BJ and Gwynieth Mackey.