When Mom Was Diagnosed With Stage 4 Cancer, I Asked Everyone I Knew to Send Christmas Cards to Cheer Her Up. Then This Happened.

Thanks to social media (and the kindness of strangers), mom got the best Christmas present of her whole life.

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Mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in November of 2012, and I feared the next Christmas would be her last. I wondered what kind of a gift I could possibly give her to show her how much I loved her. Then it dawned on me—I could give her a card shower. I put a note in my Christmas cards asking friends to send Mom and Dad a card to lift their spirits.

Well, my little idea spread exponentially thanks to my daughter and social media. She posted the request for cards on her Facebook page. In turn, her friends picked up the idea and shared it with their friends.

Near the end of November I asked Mom if she had been getting any Christmas cards. She said she had gotten a few, and I could tell by her voice she was wondering why I had asked. Well, the deluge began in early December. Some days the mail carrier delivered a bag of cards to their front door because he could not fit them into Mom and Dad’s rural mailbox.

We live about a hundred miles from my parents and visited every week after she was diagnosed with cancer. Mom saved the cards she received each week so I could look at them, too. It became our weekly ritual.

We would sit at the kitchen table, and she’d read every card, often marveling at how pretty it was. Sometimes Mom had to rest because there were too many cards for her to take in a once.

Then small gifts began arriving in the mail—books, candy, fruit and Christmas ornaments. Crafters sent beautiful homemade cards, some so fancy they were works of art. Teachers sent cards from their students—wonderful crayon drawings with sweet sentiments. Mom especially loved those. They always made her smile.

Christmas cards arrived from almost every state in the union, along with cards from Germany, France, Australia, England, China, Switzerland, Japan, Italy and Canada. It was as though the world had come to visit her little farm. We talked about where the cards came from. Mom was continually amazed that these total strangers would take the time to send her a card along with their well wishes and prayers.

The response was astounding, beyond anything I could have imagined. Mom received more than 1,200 Christmas cards. Whenever someone came by for a visit, she would proudly show them. It was the best Christmas present ever for my parents and a welcome diversion from the reality of Mom’s cancer.

Sadly, Mom passed away in early March 2013. I smile as I remember her opening her cards, and her total delight as she looked at every one. The cards were like little gifts to her. They remain a testament to the thoughtfulness of friends, relatives and many wonderful strangers. They’re also a testament to the power of love.

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