living and her Alzhemier's had not fully set in.
She came with my mom (her older sister) to our home to spend Christmas and New Year with my family. I had not wrapped anything for her so I asked if there was anything she wanted for Christmas.
She quickly replied, “Nothing, don't bother, hija.” But just as quickly, she said, “Oh, I don't mind receiving a copy of next year's The Upper Room.” (She explained that the book was her daily devotional and that not a day passed without her reading it.)
“The Upper Room it is!” I said, happy that she allowed me to buy something for her.
“Oh,” she added, “You may also want to get me a diary.” She held up her old one, “This exact size.”
I was only too happy to get those two items for her, inexpensive both, but obviously very important in her daily repertoire.
The next year, my mom passed away, and Auntie Pat was left grieving and unable to stop the scourge of Alzheimer's. She abandoned reading the newspapers—and The Upper Room. She gave up writing, too—leaving the pages of the rest of her diary blank.
I distinctly remember that Christmas now as I read my very first copy of the The Upper Room, which I purchased on impulse from a bookstore in a mall in Lipa City (50 kilometers from where we live). Tony and I had just visited a friend and we were going to treat ourselves to Lipa coffee. I thought I should have something to read while I sipped my tea and Tony read his latest thriller.
For some reason, I have had all sorts of devotional through the years but have not once picked up The Upper room. (The upper room in Bible times was a very important place. It was a place of worship, prayer, and solitude. There the disciples had their last supper with Jesus.)
From the first page, I was hooked. What Auntie Pat had read and meditated on were very short heartwarming stories of faith and grace.
Each page bares the heart of every contributing writer, real people struggling to live faithfully in real-life situations, with the Bible as their touchstone. The writers are both lay and church people who come from different parts of the world; but one thing unifies them—the belief that God calls us to a life of love and forgiveness, as modeled by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Auntie Pat saw life through these writers' eyes, whose experiences mirror many of our own.
The carols are playing and I look back to that Christmas.
Auntie Pat asked for two gifts. Although she left both untouched the rest of the next year, they opened my eyes to why these two gifts were important to her: one book reflected her faith, and the other book recorded the grace that came to her life.