In a brief tribute to a fruitful life, I wrote about Marjorie Chalmers in my People of Passion book. Miss Marjorie, as she was known, served Sevier County from 1935-1965 as nurse at the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School in Gatlinburg. She shared a story with me in the 1970s that I’d like to pass along during this Christmas season. She didn’t know the source or exactly where it occurred. She knew only that the account contained a message that touched her deeply.
Edward McCarter worked in a small post office and was in charge of sorting letters that had wrong addresses or displayed writing that was almost impossible to decipher. It was his job to try to locate the people for whom the letters were intended. He was said to be quite good at his task and he told some captivating tales about how he would determinedly track down the addressees. Enjoying his tracking tales the most were his young daughter, his even younger son, and his wife. He entertained them nightly after supper with his sleuth stories.
McCarter liked his job immensely, but his family was the love of his life. When his little boy suddenly became ill one spring and died within just a few days, it was as if the light was extinguished from McCarter’s eyes and soul. His wife and daughter were also devastated, of course, but as time passed they seemed to cope much better than he did. Once a gregarious man who really got into his job and enjoyed people, he now seemed to go silently through the motions. He ate his bagged lunch alone and spoke as little as possible at the supper table. Rather than sharing stories of search and triumph with his family now, he usually went to bed early, even though he slept very little.
People initially thought he would improve, but as spring turned into summer, fall, and then winter, McCarter’s sorrow seemed to grow. He ignored his wife when she tried to help him move on and when she told him he was being unfair to the memory of their son, to their daughter, and to her. He also turned a deaf ear toward his pastor and friends.
As Christmas neared, McCarter methodically went though his job of sorting letters. One dreary December afternoon, he adjusted his visor and dragged another bunch of envelopes under the light hanging overhead. Shuffling through the stack, he found an envelope addressed in large, bold print to “Santa Claus – North Pole.” His initial impulse led him to tear it half and toss it into the waste basket. But then, something caused him to reach into the basket and retrieve the torn envelope and contents. He carefully removed the letter, pieced it together and slowly read:
“I’ve been a good girl this year, but I’m not asking you to bring me anything. When you do come to our house, though, I would like for you to gather my little brother’s toys and take them to him. You see, he went to heaven a while back and I’ve been thinking about how much he must miss his things. I’ll place them in the corner to the right of the fireplace so you’ll know where to find them. You might also take him a new toy as a surprise if you can spare one. And, if you could, please think of something to bring Daddy that will make him smile again, and talk, and laugh, and tell stories after supper like he used to. I heard him say to Mother that only Eternity could cure him. So maybe you could bring him some Eternity…” The letter was signed by McCarter’s daughter.
As McCarter walked home that evening with a purpose in his walk and a moist sparkle in his eyes, he smiled at people, tipped his hat, and wished them a “Merry Christmas.” His wife and daughter were startled and then elated as he bounced through the front door of their cottage with a bright, joyful glow.
Carl Mays, author of over a dozen books and speaker at over 3,000 events, can be contacted at 865-436-7478 or firstname.lastname@example.org. His books, including A Strategy For Winning, People of Passion, Anatomy Of A Leader, Are We Communicating Yet? and Winning Thoughts, are available in stores, on www.carlmays.com and Amazon.com.
Swag out with Christian Activities Merchandise!
Visit the CHRISTIAN ACTIVITIES MUSIC & BOOK STORE