The Greatest Gift

Having children makes my life much more interesting. Back at the beginning of the year, Joey emailed me a list of seventy-eight questions. Yeah, I actually counted. Questions like what’s the best advice you’ve ever received, what is something that most people don’t know about you, what’s your favorite quote, what’s the purpose of life, what makes a good friend, what do you most regret about your life, what is it that attracted you to my father, and what’s one thing you wish you had done differently as a mother. As if there was only one thing. And those were some of the easy questions. A daunting task to say the least. I hope to have all his questions answered before I am too old to remember what my answers are. Or how to type them.

Just a little overwhelmed, I did the only thing I knew to do to get started. I chose the absolute easiest question I could find. What is the greatest gift you have ever been given? That was simple. A brand new ream of notebook paper.

When my brother and I were five, we lived in a house on Stories Street in Memphis. There was a small entry room at the front door, with a closet where daddy kept one of his belts he used to spank us. My little brother was still a baby and barely walking. Mama stayed at home, and I’m sure she must have had her hands full with the three of us.

I don’t remember what I had done wrong (see, it’s happening already), but mama said she was gonna tell daddy when he got home from work. I knew that mama saying that meant that I would get a spanking. As a child, daddy could just say “poor Tammy” to me and I would tear up, so I was literally distraught during the wait for daddy to get home.

It was a long afternoon, but daddy got home and mama told him about whatever my misbehavings were. He said that I knew what that meant and told me to come with him to that entry room. I cried all the way there. And then the most unbelievable thing happened. Instead of taking his belt from the closet as I expected, daddy pulled out a brand new ream of notebook paper and handed it to me. I absolutely loved drawing and there was a brand new, unopened ream of paper to draw on. I can’t describe the joy that I felt.

I have no idea why daddy did that rather than spank me like I’m sure I deserved. I have asked daddy about that day, but he doesn’t remember it. I’ll never forget the feeling. I have been blessed, and have received many wonderful gifts. But that ream of notebook paper was truly the greatest gift I have ever been given.