A Gift for Mrs. Thompson
by Rodger Mangold
June 12, 2000

The day was like any normal day and the widow Mrs. Thompson was out weeding her flower garden when a small figure plopped beside her. It was little Tim from the house across the street who had just moved in a few weeks ago. Tim was your typical little boy all of 7 years old and full of excitement and mischief. As Tim approached, he startled Mrs. Thompson. This being their first encounter with each other, things didn't exactly get off to a good start. Their conversation started something like this...

"Good Heavens Young Man, where are your manners don't you know any better than to sneak up on an old lady like that?"

"Sorry mam, I saw you kneeling down like that and thought that maybe you were praying or something?"

What the widow Thompson was doing was far from praying. She could often be found out in her flower garden uttering things that in terms of "manners" were quite inappropriate for a lady of her age to be saying. She had only a month or so ago lost her husband of 48 years and was not taking kindly to the fact that God had chosen to take not only her husband but also her dearest friend. For this she blamed God. Life as she knew it had changed. Her one and only love of her life had been taken from her. Her only means of support now, being a small pension check and the occasional call from her daughter who had abandoned her to move out of state for her husband's job promotion.

Well if this little rascal thinks he can just pop in to invade my day and disturb my work, well he's wrong, she thought.

"I think you best be going home young man, I have a lot of work to do here and I think it may rain soon so be off with you," said the widow gruffly.

"Well that wouldn't be the neighborly thing to do now would it mam, I mean if I leave now and I don't know your name and you don't know mine you won't know who your mad at and I won't know who I'm praying for tonight when I say my prayers," reasoned Timmy.

Prayers, thought Mrs. Thompson. A lot of good they did me a month ago when I lost my Harold. This little man has much to learn.

"My name is Mrs. Thompson and I don't take kindly to boys stopping in unannounced and as far as your prayers this evening you may leave my name out of them I will not be needing them now or ever. It seems to me God will do whatever he wants anyway!" she touted.

"Oh not so Mrs. Thompson, why just the other day God answered one of my prayers. I prayed that my doggy Fletch would get better and God healed him," Tim said.

"Well I hardly think a sick dog getting better would take an act of God." was her reply.

Timmy was thinking in the back of his mind that he didn't care if she wanted him to pray for her or not he was going to do just that and if need be he was going to pray for her 2 times a night just in case God didn't hear the first time.

"Well, I have to be going now anyway mam, it was nice meeting you I hope you get done with your flowers before it rains," he said as a distant thunder cloud sounded off.

This wasn't the last of their conversations. It seemed every time the widow would do her gardening or get her mail the lad would be right at her heels pelting her with questions and once in awhile he would even hand her a card he had made or some sort of trinket he had found.

No matter what Timmy would say, the embittered widow would respond as she had on the day they met: cold and condescending. This didn't matter at all to Timmy he still loved doing things for Mrs. Thompson. He couldn't help but feel that all she needed was just a little time and her gruff exterior would melt away.

Several months went by and Timmy had yet to stop by one time. She thought little of it at first and in fact she sort of enjoyed the reprieve from the constant barraging of questions and worthless trinkets. Secretly she had saved every one of them and down in her cold, bitter heart a sense of warmth had begun to flicker. With each passing day Timmy's absence had started to trouble her.

On Timmy's last visit to her he said that he had something very special for her the next time that he saw her and that he couldn't wait to give it to her. As he told her this, the boy seemed to glow with excitement.

One day on her way out to the mailbox she noticed what she believed to be Timmy's dad pulling into the drive. It took all her courage to stop Tim's father but she had begun to miss the daily visits and thought maybe something was wrong. Her concerns were heightened as she saw the look on Timmy's father's face as she enquired about the boy's absence.

"Hello, I'm Mrs. Thompson."

"Yes mam I know you well, you are all Tim talks about these days, it seems you have made quite an impression on our Timmy."

How so? Thought the widow in the back of her mind.

"Well, it has been quite some time since I've seen the lad and I couldn't help but notice that he hasn't been playing in the yard," she said. Her heart was in her throat by this time.

"Yes something has happened to Timmy. It seems he has a rare illness that the doctors can't quite pinpoint but it appears that it may be cancer and he has had to stay indoors when he's not in the hospital that is."

"Where is he now?" she asked.

"He's in intensive care right now at the hospital and I just stopped home to get my wife's things she hasn't left his side"

"May I go and visit him?" she asked.

"Certainly but I can't guarantee he will know who you are, with all the medication he's not always able to tell who it is that's talking to him." He explained.

Mrs. Thompson immediately went to work. She hadn't been out in so long she wasn't even sure she could still drive. You see her Harold had always done all the driving.

"Oh and what to wear?", she thought as she pilfered through her closet. She had lived in a house coat and slippers since Harold's funeral.

2 hours later Mrs. Thompson pushed the button to the 10th floor of the elevator that would take her to the intensive care unit of the children's hospital. She enquired at the nurse's station as to what room Timmy was in and the nurse seemed a bit sullen as the widow mentioned the boy's name. Her heart began to pound in her chest and her stomach was in knots.

As she entered the room the mood was heavy and death seemed to permeate through out the ward. Conversations were silenced upon the family seeing Mrs. Thompson's entrance.

Tim's mom was the first to greet her with hushed tones she explained the now seemingly hopeless situation. The curtain surrounding Timmy's bed was pulled back and there lay the frail figure of a boy who was fighting for his life. Monitors and regulators all sounding their eerie pulse as she approached his bedside. Slowly his eyes opened as if he sensed her presence.

If it would have been possible one would have thought the boy was going to jump out of the bed and give her a big hug. See, Timmy didn't have grandparents so the closest thing he believed he had was Mrs. Thompson.

Huge tears began to well up in the widow's eyes as she looked at the boy's almost skeletal frame. His skin was yellow and his features were drawn but beneath all of that Mrs. Thompson could see the boyish mischief she has grown to miss.

Timmy tried to speak but all that would come out were whispers. He was trying to say something to his mother as he pointed to a small rectangular gift that was lying at his bedside. The only words he could muster were "FOR YOU," as he directed his glance at the widow.

Mrs. Thompson was flooded with guilt and shame as the gift was handed her way when she had brought nothing for the boy not even a get-well card. The guilt was quickly overridden by grief as she viewed the contents of the package. It was a small Bible and on it's inside cover were written these words in Timmy's writing:
Dear Mrs. Thompson,
I am not sure if I will ever see you again in this life. I found out today that I may have cancer and mommy and daddy are pretty upset. I got you this Bible with my allowance that I saved up for almost 2 months. I hope you like it. Everyone in our church has one and they all seem so happy that I thought maybe this would be the thing that may bring a smile to your face. At first, I thought all my little treasures that I have been saving up to trade with my friends might bring a smile to your face but that didn't seem to do the trick and with so many smiling faces at church I knew I couldn't go wrong with a Bible.

I underlined some things in it with a crayon that my Sunday school teacher told me you might enjoy. I was afraid that maybe you still felt like God didn't answer prayers so I wanted to let you know that he did it again for me. I asked him to let me see you one more time and although I haven't seen you yet my Sunday school teacher taught me if I have faith and believe my prayers will be answered.

I love you Mrs. Thompson and Jesus wanted me to tell you he loves you too.

Your friend,

The tears had found their way down Mrs. Thompson's cheek and onto the small passage she was reading. She couldn't contain them any longer nor could she contain the flood of emotions that began to pour out of her. She gently reached down and hugged and kissed Timmy and thanked him for his kind words and for the gift.

Upon leaving Mrs. Thompson had no idea that it was the boy's last breath that was used to speak the words "FOR YOU."

They laid Timmy to rest but a new life had started as a result of the young boy's friendship. Timmy's life was short but his legacy will far outlive him. Mrs. Thompson began attending the local church and soon became the Sunday school teacher of the 7 and 8 year boys and girls. In addition to the widow Thompson's new found calling she has found a new companion as well. It seems Timmy's last wish was to give his doggy Fletch to Mrs. Thompson. Now it's all Mrs. Thompson can do to keep Fletch out of her flower garden but she doesn't mind. It was in that very same garden she met Timmy and not a time goes by that she doesn't look at that garden and not think of all the beauty Timmy had brought back into her life.

Copyright Rodger Mangold

Rodger is interested in feedback about his writing.  Please email him at rmangold@ford.com with your thoughts!

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