An Unexpected Find

  • By Charlene Potterbaum.

    About seven years ago, my son Don and his Significant Other were returning to Indiana after doing some Trade Shows in New York. While cruising on the Turnpike, they saw a huge sign telling of an Antiques Store a few miles off the toll road. Kathi suggested they turn off and check it out, as she loved buying specialties for her show rooms, and prowling around in the musty interiors that had so much to offer.

    So, once they stepped into the huge store, Kathi went one way, and my son Don’s attention turned towards what looked like a “sea” of shoe boxes that took up one huge section. He glanced over a few of the boxes, and found one that simply stated “jail and prison cards.”

    Now, you need to know that Don had always had an interest in anything that smacked of police, FBI or detective work, so–his curiosity got the better of him. He walked to that particular box, and–to use his words, he said, “Ma, so help me God–I only picked out one card!” At first glance, he then saw that these were humorous, comic post cards, and was about to replace it when something on the front face of the card caught his eye….

    He saw that the one who wrote the card put their entire message on the front of the card, instead of the backside with the mailing address! Thinking this a bit unusual, he decided to read the “note”–and almost fell over when he saw that it was signed “Ruby Yarnell”!–which was the name of his maternal grandmother (and my mother)!

    He could hardly believe his eyes, and even he said “Mom, it was like the earth moved, or something…I couldn’t believe it!” The first thing he did was to whip out his cell to call me, and not getting any answer, he then called my sister, Lauraine… which was just as well as she was the “historian” of the family, anyhow. He asked her if Ruby had ever lived in Hartford as a young girl as the date on the card was 1907. She did some figuring in her head, then said, “Yes, and that would have been when she was fourteen…” so the dates matched.

    He was so excited, he could hardly contain himself, so when he checked out, he said “How much is this card? I’d like to buy it…” and the clerk said, “That will be two dollars, please….” But he was so near to exploding, he grinned and quickly shared the story with the clerk. She responded with “Well, son, it looks like you got a real bargain there, didn’t you?” to which he responded, “But not as good as you’d have gotten, as I’d have paid $200 for it!” as he walked away, laughing…

    Well, my Sis and I both cried like babies, to have this note in our hands after all these years. It was Mom’s handwriting, without question, even if she was only fourteen when she wrote it. As we all discussed and marveled over this find, we had to wonder how many times someone had almost thrown it away, or how many times had it been stuffed away in some attic, and how did it ever arrive in an Antique store in Pennsylvania!

    But my marveling went deeper. I felt it was a definite “message” from my Mom. Somehow, it was preserved for me and it carried an even deeper message for me, personally. You see, my Mom and I had an unusual relationship. I never felt she was very maternal, nor did I ever feel close to her, yet, my sister did. Although the actual message on the post card was the light prattle you might expect from two young girls, the deeper message that came to my heart as I held the card in my hands was this:

    “This is to let you know that I truly did love you, even though I never knew how to show that love. But you see, I was playing a “role”–one I was called to play; because my lack of showing my love for you is what caused you to seek out a deeper love for God, and it woudn’t have happened if I hadn’t played my role properly. Dad was playing his role, too–because our lack caused you to reach for the Perfect Parent, and from that has flowed your life’s message, both written and spoken. Also, this has happened so that you can know, that, although you will someday “disappear” from this world, your writing can be found many years later, showing up in the strangest–but perfect–places. Love, Mom”

    Can anyone tell me what was guiding my son’s hand when he reached into that box? Can anyone tell me why it was so well preserved after so many years? What had it taken to put it there in Pennsylvania? What really prompted them to turn off the Turnpike? So many questions… so few answers… but plenty of awe!

    Charlene Potterbaum

    I am the wife of one, mother of six, grandmother to twenty, and author of five books. I am a lover of God, people, words, and chocolate--and my grand passion is making quilts for the critically wounded military, under the auspices of citizensam.org(these quilts go directly into hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan). I also love solitude and Spirit-led conversations.

    I was blessed to bring forth a "National Best Seller" in the 70's, titled Thanks Lord, I Needed That! And one other "claim to fame"was doing a quilted wall-hanging of Carol Burnett's great-grandmother's home for her.

    The most daring thing I ever did was toco-author a book with a brilliant "gay guy", Jim Pauley, titled Granny and the Gay Guy and have had to face many interesting, challenging attitudes, because of it.

    Now I've come into the 21st century and released all my books on Kindle, Nook, etc!

    For more information, please visit boundtoexcel.blogspot.com.

    View all posts by Charlene Potterbaum.

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    4 replies
    1. yolanda L. Punsalan
      yolanda L. Punsalan says:

      Nowadays, our chances of finding unexpected links to our loved ones become rarer because everything is on the internet. But maybe, there’s a value to that too. In terms of speed? Finding things faster?
      I enjoyed this article, thank you.

      Reply
    2. Jackie
      Jackie says:

      You brought me to tears and reminded me of His Great Love that is manifested so often in the tiny details of our lives. Thank you.

      Reply
    3. Becky
      Becky says:

      I just love this story. It shows a very intimate God and a very small world. We really do matter to the story…
      wonderfully written too.

      Reply

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