Sometimes it’s the little things we do that seem inconsequential to us. But to others, they make a huge impact on their lives.
Ben and I unknowingly did that last year when our dear friend Annette’s dad, whom we affectionately call Dad Warren, was taken to the hospital about two weeks before Christmas with pneumonia. He was in for almost a week, but he had to agree to go for physical therapy to get his strength back before he could go home. So instead of spending the Christmas holidays with his family in his own home of many years, he had no choice but to spend them in a local rehab center in unfamiliar surroundings.
But before I tell the entire story, let me relate a little bit about this wonderful man.
Rev. Warren Wilson set a goal for himself early in life…to become a minister and spread the word of the Lord. He studied hard, went to seminary, met the love of his life (and the only woman he ever dated) and married her. Together, over almost four decades, they pastored a number of churches, and raised five wonderful children. And as of this writing, at 94 years old, his mind is as sharp as that of a teenager, and although he lost his beloved wife Ruth last year, he still talks about her daily and wears her wedding ring on his hand. His body may not do what he wants it to, because he’s had several heart surgeries, a hip replacement, and a few years ago a stroke that left him with continual dizziness, which has since forced him to spend his days in a wheelchair.
But that wheelchair hasn’t stopped Dad Warren from being the same fun-loving, teasing, and sometimes mischievous man he has always been. He still spends several hours a day reading his Bible, and writing his thoughts about what he reads: essays and sermons that I pray we will one day get to transpose and publish to share with others.
Back to the story…
None of us wanted him to be without some type of decorations for Christmas. Annette brought him some decorations to hang on the wall, and someone brought him a Santa hat, which he wore every time he took his wheelchair for a spin around the facility, but he didn’t have a Christmas tree. And there wasn’t really a place for one in his room.
My mother had a little green ceramic Christmas tree she used the last several years of her life. Her sister had made it for her, and of course when we packed up her home after she left us, that was one of the items I couldn’t bear to get rid of, so it came home with us. Although I very seldom use it, its sentimental value cannot be measured.
It was perfect for Dad Warren’s room; it wasn’t very big, and would fit on his dresser, and it would even serve as a night light for him.
We had no idea what this simple act of loaning a little ceramic Christmas tree meant to this man. When we told him it had been my mother’s, and how her sister had made it for her, he was hesitant to use it, afraid it would get broken. We assured him we wanted him to have it in his room, and finally convinced him by telling him my mother would want to have someone enjoying her tree! He almost cried over it…
The next day, and for several days later, he called me to ask me specific questions about my mother, and finally told me he was writing a poem about her Christmas tree. He worked on it for a week or so, and when he was done, he made a point of reading it to everyone who came to visit him, and telling them the story of his tree. I was so touched. I typed up the poem and had it framed as a special treasure.
Thank you, Dad Warren, for being who you are and for being such a wonderful example of God’s love to everyone who knows you. We love you. I am honored to share your poem.
“My Little Christmas Tree”
‘Tis not very big, perhaps just one foot tall;
It looks so pretty sitting against the wall,
Dressed in green with variegated lights – perhaps 50 in all.
But what’s so special about my beautiful tree near the wall?
It’s not its luster or its eye-catching glow
Whose Christmas love gave birth to my little friend near the wall.
Its nativity birthed forth from love’s sacrifice of loss – yet gain;
When Deborah and Ben Newell spared naught to share its life,
And now eternal flame.
Its station and reflection on the wall
Bestows Christmas love and joy to all.
Even now Rachel Chapman’s voice enhances Heaven’s angelic choir
Singing, “Glory to God in the highest with peace on earth” to those who can sing:
Crown Him King of Kings, Crown Him Lord of Lords – Wonderful, Counselor,
The Mighty God. Emmanuel – God is with us, and He will reign,
He will reign, He will reign forevermore.”
And He gave a little Christmas tree to prove His love to you and me.
Scribe: Warren H. Wilson
December 25, 2014
Note: Rachel Chapman was my mother. And she never sang. But I truly believe Dad Warren heard her singing in God’s heavenly choir.