She could tell that no one had been up there in a very long time. Sarah bent to her knees and pushed aside piles of old Life magazines. Grasping the solid brass lock, she raised the dome of the battered trunk. Black dust escaped into the musky air around her. She lifted her flashlight above the cavernous opening and was greeted by more forgotten memories. Gently, she pulled out the thick stack of faded postcards tied carefully with twisted ribbon. After piecing together the broken scrawl of the first postcard, Sarah stared into the rafters.
“Why, Mamma?” She whispered to herself.
Earlier that month, Mrs. Martin had asked Sarah to come to the old homestead and help her finish up some chores. Her Pastor had recommended she put her affairs in order and in her mind that meant clean the entire house from top to bottom. Sarah lived nearby and Mrs. Martin knew she could call on her for support but Sarah had several business trips that she couldn’t postpone. She offered to come when she returned. Mrs. Martin knew it would be too late and hated to impose.
Now Sarah knew why momma had wanted to clean the house from top to bottom. Especially the top. She shuffled to the attic window where fading daylight still filtered in. Wiping back sweat, Sarah settled down on an old horsehair blanket and pulled out another postcard.
“Dearest Mary, The love that you shared with me will never grow cold. I will hold onto the joy till my dying days. Love, Henry.”
Sarah thought of her beloved father now dead 10 years. She was glad he hadn’t discovered these.
The next postcard was from a different admirer.
“Dear Mary, You will never fully understand how the love you so freely show has changed my life. I will always remember you. Love, Carl.”
Sarah’s heart grew cold as she read card after card extolling her mother’s generous love to over ten different men. She dropped the pile and shook her head. She had never really known her momma.
The clock in the bedroom below chimed six times. She needed to compose herself for the service. She’d dispose of the distasteful evidence later.
Sarah’s hands were growing weary from shaking so many well-meaning hands. She peered over the tops of the heads and was surprised to see the line still stretched out the front door. Unexpectedly, she felt a gnarled hand gently grasp hers and bring it to the wrinkled lips of a man who had the warmest blue eyes.
“I’ve been waiting to meet you, Sarah. I’m Henry, an old friend of your mother’s.”
Sarah quickly pulled her hand from his.
“How dare you come here!” She hissed into his ear, hoping the next person in line hadn’t overheard.
The blue eyes sparkled.
“You found them, didn’t you?” He grinned a toothless smile and shook his white head. “She never could throw anything away.” He chuckled under his breathe.
“She was a private one, your mother. Never wanted anyone to know her business. But many of us benefited from it. Yes,” he nodded, “she always knew how to find us and never forgot us. Even when we were down to our last dime.”
“What are you talking about? You loved my mother! You and about ten other men!” Mary couldn’t believe she was having this conversation with this offensive man. She pulled away from him and motioned to the entrance. Her actions seemed to further tickle the old man.
“Honey, your mamma is one lady I was proud to know. She not only shared food with us but more importantly her love for the Lord.” He glanced at the open coffin. A tear rolled down his wizened face. He started forward and then turned back to Sarah.
“Your mamma didn’t do anything wrong but look after a few men down on their luck. When I got back on my feet, I let her know how much her sharing the gospel with me had changed my life.” Henry nodded again and was soon lost in the sea of mourners.
His words stung her face. She hurried to the exit and sought refuge in her car. Reaching into her glove compartment, Sarah grasped the postcard she had received just the week before. Her momma’s neat script glowed in the dome’s soft light. Sarah sadly shook her head and whispered. “Why didn’t you tell me, too, momma?”
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