The Annie Paisley Story

Submitted by Marian Clements, Yelm

Annie died in spite of it all – but we all learned about love and about giving. And we all know that nothing is wasted or lost.

After the autumnal Boktau Annie regressed, the cancer going rampant and it was necessary for her to go into the hospital for tubal feedings. When I saw her in mid December she appeared to be slipping into a coma. Her nurse spoke to me in hushed tones and her doctor informed her partner that he should make arrangements as it would be only a matter of a few days. So I sat by her bed, held her hand, cried and told her I loved her. I said goodbye.

A couple of days later I am celebrating Christmas with the Ram and a couple thousand of my closest friends. My beloved teacher instructed us to take the packages from beneath the tree and distribute them to the handicapped, the needy and the sick. My friend Flora received a gift from Avrial and she brought it to me without unwrapping it and requested that I take it to Annie. I said, “Look, that’s a grand intention but Annie’s dying. She can’t even open her eyes let alone a gift.” Flora said, “Take it to her.”

That was Saturday night. In the thrust of celebration Annie’s gift was crushed and was not presentable. So the next morning I surveyed the situation and decided the gift needed some revamping. I took it apart and realized it contained seven items, beautiful things that would please any woman. I had no appropriate box so I re-wrapped each item separately and started off for the hospital with a little tree, a string of lights and the intention that if Annie opened her eyes enough to see the tree and its gifts for just one moment it would be worth everything.

When I walked into her hospital room I found Annie sitting up in bed, trying to eat. And there was a small beautifully decorated Christmas close by. Again I cried and said hello.

We had a jolly visit and I placed the seven gifts at the base of her little tree. Then I handed one to her. “Open this. There’s one for each day of the week, seven gifts.” Now please understand, dear reader, I am not thinking of what I am saying. My mouth is on automatic spirit. Annie was quite surprised and pleased at the gift and the prospect of more, understanding only that they came from the party the previous night. Her glee was so childlike that next I said, “I’ll be back next Sunday with sever more.” And now we are both surprised.

Monday morning I am reflecting on all this. I promised seven more gifts, that’s easy. This is a very giving community. Only a few phone calls later I had seven small, beautifully wrapped gifts for Annie. And the following Sunday when I went to see her, she had indeed opened one each day and was eager as a wee one to see me. She asked, “how long is this going to go on?” My mouth opened and it said, “As long as it takes. As long as you open them they will keep coming.” I am now recalling my teacher’s story of St Nicholas and how he made toys for the children to make them laugh so they could survive the winter and live. We’ll make Annie laugh and maybe.....

All I had to do was ask. I called a few people and they called a few people. And there were many miracles along the way. Maryanne brought two beautifully wrapped gifts, Dorothy gave a sack containing six gifts which I wrapped, Liz brought such funny things and a bundle of wrapping paper. Sue contributed a butterfly poster and various other play items. There were crystal pieces, skin lotions, ornaments for her tree, candy, books, tapes, puzzles, trinkets of all sorts. David offered a tropical shell and Lyn sent smoked salmon. And there was a small gold pentagram on a velvet cord.

There were assorted frogs, my favorite said “ribbet” and rolled out a long tongue, from Mary. Annie gave that one to a clown that came to make her laugh.

Some days she had to be coaxed to open a gift and some days she was sitting up in anticipation. And the nursing-home staff were amazed as Christmas in Annie’s room continued well beyond the new year.

I had the grand honor of playing Santa every week and Annie never know exactly from where these gifts came. Meanwhile Barbara stopped by my house with eight gifts wrapped in flowers and Lee, with eyes dancing, handed me bag of beauties to wrap and deliver. Also came picture frames, a china swan, candles, music tapes and so much love.

Annie grew weaker and asked me to take care of all her gifts “when the time comes.” Yet she continued opening them. She shared with me that sometimes at night she saw her gifts and toys come alive and dance or march to the direction of a small ceramic ram.

The last time I visited, wearing my Santa hat, with yet another basked of gifts, Annie could no longer talk. She held my hand and fought so hard to hang on to her body. I held her and encouraged her to let it go, and I cried and said goodbye.

The next day Annie left this plane. My dear friend of ten years gone on to her next adventure. It was late March. I had much to reflect upon.

Annie had asked me to keep her little Christmas tree and thru a mutual friend she requested that I be given the gold pentagram. And I had many gifts to steward on to new places. Eventually everything found a new home. And one day I looked at the little gold star and realized its value – a piece of finely crafted gold and a symbol of the love that passed between my friend and I and the love among all of us. It was my grand opportunity to learn how God gives. I was immersed in that selfless quality for weeks as the givers of gifts appeared asking no recognition, only to be allowed to give. I just opened my mouth and let my God speak and what followed was my most honored Christmas experience.

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