A Mother’s Day Message from Spirit

It was Mother’s Day, 2005. Taking advantage of the good weather, I decided to enjoy a game of tennis with my husband. Though it was only 9:30 in the morning, the sun was already baking the court with its rays. “Let the games begin,” I thought as he served the first ball. I was feeling great with lots of energy to spare. I was ready to take him on.

Back and forth we went, popping the ball fast and running all over the court. I was in the zone and moving fast. A ball came toward me, spinning as it crested the net. My body leapt into the air, my right hand reaching over my body to hit the ball from a backhand position. As I became airborne, I heard and felt a “SNAP.” As quickly as I heard it, my body fell from the air, landing on the hard tennis court. I was dazed and immediately in pain. My body was contorted on the ground, legs and arms all different directions. And worst of all, my left knee was now swollen the size of a grapefruit.

“Happy Mother’s Day to me,” I said with a sigh.

That Mother’s Day was spent resting with my leg elevated and trying to determine my next move. Hoping the swelling would go down, I enjoyed a Mother’s Day picnic, propped up by pillows and being waited on by the family — a not so bad trade-off.

The next morning I could see the writing on the wall. Though I was no longer in pain, my knee remained hugely swollen and sported all the colors of the rainbow. The fact that I couldn’t put any weight on it tipped me off as well.

Off to the orthopedic doc I went.

Since I couldn’t drive, my oldest son drove me to the doctor. The clinic was not far away, but since we were running a little late, we had to take a route through local neighborhoods to get there on time. I stared out the window, thinking of how quickly life can change in an instant. I was also nervous about what the doctor would say. The ride was silent as I pondered my situation.

As I stared at the houses, my attention was drawn to some items at the curb. It looked like someone had cleaned out their garage and put old furniture items on the street for pick up. There was an old chair with one leg missing, an ottoman looking quite used and dirty, and a blond-colored desk. Suddenly, we seemed to be riding in slow motion, and I pressed my face to the cold glass.

“Wow!” I thought. “That looks so much like my childhood sewing desk.” I couldn’t take my eyes off it as we drove by. This desk looked old and had pieces flaking off the finish. Yet it felt so familiar. I felt I knew this desk.

My son pulled into a parking space, and we got out. An hour later, I left with an MRI appointment and a pre-diagnosis of a torn ligament. Hobbling on one leg and with the help of a crutch, I crammed myself back in the car, and we headed home.

We went past the house with the desk again. It was still there, waiting for garbage pick up. There was that familiar feeling again. I couldn’t stop looking at it, craning my neck until it was out of sight.

My mind drifted back to childhood and my mother, who taught me how to sew at that desk. You see, the desk was cleverly designed so that it could hold a sewing machine within it. When we weren’t sewing, we could fold it up, and it became a desk. I had many fond memories of time spent with my mother as she showed me how to sew lots of things.

I had inherited the sewing desk when my mother passed. But, in 1993 when we were moving to another home, I decided to have a yard sale. I was cleaning out all the things I didn’t want or need and passing them along. For some reason, I had decided the desk was too old and had to go. There it sat on the side of our road with a sale sign on it that said $50.00. A lady approached me toward the end of the day.

“How much will you take for the desk?” she asked, looking it over. “It has some nicks and dings, you know.”

I was busy helping others and trying to look after the children.

“Will you take $25?” she asked and pushed the money toward me.

“Yes,” I said in an unsure voice. “I guess.”

And that was that. She loaded up the desk, and I kept the $25. It was a bargain for her. As she drove off, I had a sick feeling in my stomach and regretted it instantly. But it was too late.

All day long, I couldn’t get the desk out of my mind. I kept feeling I had left it all alone on the road. When my children got home from school, I told them what I had been feeling. They could see how upset I was remembering the childhood desk and now seeing one so familiar.

“Why don’t we go get it?” Cameron, my son, asked. “Meredith and I can do it.”

“Oh,” I said, “I can’t. What am I going to do with an old desk? Besides, what would you say to the owner of the house? ‘Hi, my mom saw your desk on the way to the doctor today. She thinks she might know this desk. And can we have it?’ Do you know how crazy that would sound?”

But the feeling wouldn’t leave me alone and after an hour of hand-wringing, I relented and sent them on a mission to rescue the desk. “No matter what,” I thought, “we can keep it from going to the landfill.” I was trying to make myself feel better.

I waited impatiently for their return. Finally, they pulled back up to the house and looked at me from the windows. They were smiling from ear to ear and gave me two thumbs up. I leaned on my crutches and waited for them to unload it.

The minute I saw the desk up close, tears streamed down my face. I opened the drawers and touched my hand to the wood. I even leaned in to see if it smelled the same. The drawers smelled exactly the same as I remembered them. And in one of the drawers was the final proof — two tiny letters that had been etched into the wood — my initials “TH.”

“What happened?” I asked. “What did she say?”

They looked at each other and smiled.

“When we knocked on her door, she was a little suspicious of who we were and what we wanted. Then she cracked the door open enough for us to explain why we were there. When she heard our story, she opened the door wide. She had a surprised look on her face. ‘I bought this desk many years ago at a yard sale,’ she said. ‘I paid $25 for it. It has served me well, and now I no longer need it. Do you want it?’ We both said, ‘Yes!’ and knew the desk was coming back home.”

As I inspected the little desk with all its nicks and dings and flaked off pieces, I wrapped my arms around it as if I were hugging my mother. I knew in that moment that my mother had sent it back to me. In a remarkable chain of events that started with my knee injury, the desk had found its way back to me, back to its rightful home, back to the place it belonged.

I’ll never forget that Mother’s Day. I still have the desk today. A Mother’s Day message from spirit? No doubt! It holds precious memories, ones that will forever be held in my heart. When I look back at the events, I have to chuckle, though. Mom, I love you more than ever. But did you have to trip me on the tennis court to get me to find the desk?

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