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  • Writer's pictureHelen

You May Never Know....

In a week where we expected that celebrating my birthday and our golden wedding would be low key, I’ve been reminded that small gifts and simple occasions can be like tiny love bombs whose shrapnel flies where the sender never intended. There have been a number and we’re grateful for them all.

Gifts and greetings have come in ‘languages’ both visible and invisible, verbal and silent and we are grateful for every single one. I/we have received hugs both literal and electronic, emails and Facebook messages - and cards commercial and lovingly homemade. Our lounge looks and smells like a florist shop! Like all the gifts, flowers and plants give so much more than sensory pleasure - they carry all sorts of memories of the people who gave them and what they mean to us.

Time has been another gift, – ‘presence’ not presents, surprising knocks at the door, friends dropping in for an impromptu visit – all have added delight to this pandemic-wounded celebration. Then there have been what the love language experts call, ‘acts of service’ – our daughter, Emma, has given me/us too many to mention around both events. Another friend remembered the dessert we had for our wedding breakfast and recreated it for us: - poires belle Hélène! Each greeting with or without words has offered a meaningful connection and a warming lifting of spirits in ways impossible to explain to the givers.

For my birthday, I got a simple but very special gift - meaningful to me in ways the giver could never have intended.

On the surface, it was something that any granny would be delighted to receive – a picture from her eight-year old grandson! The drawing was mostly in pencil with a couple of colours. It was a picture of a sign made of two big and lots of small 3-D banner boxes. One of them contained the words ‘Happy Birthday’ and the other ‘Granny’. At the bottom of the page was a picture of a little gift box with a bow on top. There was blue sky and green grass and the words ‘love from Sebastian’ and two kisses at the bottom. Lovely!

Sebastian usually creates dinosaurs and machines with the sort of intricate technical detail of a young Leonardo da Vinci! I have started a folder collecting his drawings just to watch his progression. This was one more drawing for the folder of drawings – great!

Then his mother told me, ‘He drew 3-D boxes on your card because he said you taught him how to draw a box!’ Ha! Someone once taught me how to draw a box in 3-D by starting off with two intersecting squares and joining them up. I had shared the skill with Sebastian – who has remembered it for my birthday. But it was a gift more meaningful to this particular granny because of a 60-year old story.

My last school report for Art, contained eight words unforgettable whenever my grandchildren say, ‘Come and draw with us, Granny!’ The words were: ‘In spite of little natural ability, Helen tries hard!’

This week, Sebastian, gave me the best of gifts. He gave me more than a drawing, more than a birthday card. He gave me back a little bit of lost self-esteem – and it meant more than he can possibly know!

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Þóra Sigríður Jónsdóttir
Þóra Sigríður Jónsdóttir
Jul 31, 2021

Congratulations from us <3 Being a teacher and a preacher is a challenge and I shiver at the thought of some silly sentence I might have said or written that has had an impact on that persons life. Words are so powerful and you are an expert. I just recently when Manfred was rehearsing a speech for an important event with people from many countries I told him "speak with love and care for every word like Helen, then everyone will hear and understand you" Miss seeing you both and thank God for your friendship when we were at Newbold. 50y is a lot of quantity but I am sure that there was equal amount of quality <3 And yes,…


Marja-terttu Junnikkala
Marja-terttu Junnikkala
Jul 30, 2021

I am praying daily for both of you. I liked what you wrote about Sebastian. How much he value you. How great you are to him.

Living separately from my husband I have learn to admire people like you two. Big hugs to you and I love both of you.

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