This story was submitted by a friend who was affected by the painting “While Mary Sleeps”. You can read other comments on the painting’s web page.
From an email I received in December 2013:
A Christmas Story
Once there was a little old woman who loved her children more than life itself. But, as much as she loved them, she loved the thirteen grandchildren they provided her with even more. One day, she received the news that her forthcoming fourteenth grandbaby was not well. He had more than one serious problem as he grew in his mommy’s tummy and he was not expected to be born. He was born but a very few moments later he was returned to the bosom of the Heavenly father whom had sent him to Earth.
Of course, the mommy and daddy were devastated and heartbroken, and the little old woman could barely catch her breath from moment to moment as she grieved for the little boy. She had been blessed to hold the little angel boy and rock his little body, which no longer housed his glorious spirit, in a rocking chair, all wrapped up in snugly little blankets. He weighed all of one and a half pounds, but he was beautiful. His face was perfect; the face of a tiny angel.
Before being privileged to hold her precious grandchild, the baby had been in a room alone with the little old lady’s son, the baby boy’s daddy. As the little old granny prepared to enter the room to see the deceased child, the nurse had told her what a wonderful son she had. He had been holding and rocking, singing and cooing, to his little son for almost an hour. The nurse had been deeply touched.
As the sobbing little grandma entered the room, she was treated to the blessed sight of her youngest son, cuddling the tiny little bundle, playing children’s Christian songs and the songs of the baby’s deceased grandfather for him on a phone.
Several weeks following the graveside service for the angel boy, the little old lady was invited to a Christmas party for the ladies from her church. The party was being held in her dear friend’s lovely, hospitable, warm and blessed home. Prominently displayed in the room, was a breathtakingly beautiful print by an artist who happened to be a school-days chum of the little old lady’s friend and hostess. The little old lady fairly gasped when she saw the print. It featured Joseph, lovingly holding and cuddling his little step son, for whose mortal welfare he would be charged. What Joseph must have been thinking about that little boy, the Prince of Peace, the promised Messiah! … whom he then held in his arms.
The pose in which Joseph sat in the painting, caressing his new born son, and the look on his face, was exactly the same in which the grieving little old lady had found her son with his first born son, newly departed, when she had entered the hospital room several weeks before.
The little old lady told her dear friend she must know the name of the artist and get a print for her son. That wonderful friend secretly ordered the print for the little old lady, knowing she was laid off her job and financially struggling. It was to be a lovely Christmas gift to the little old lady. Then, the friend contacted the artist, her schoolmate of so many years ago, and she briefly explained the story of the grandma’s fourteenth grandchild, and the similarities between how the lady had viewed her loving son with his baby, compared with the artist’s concept of Joseph cuddling the baby Jesus.
Excitedly, the wonderful friend contacted the little old lady and told her she had ordered the print for her to give to her son. The little old lady was so thrilled that she would have it for her son. She told him about it and she was excited and filled with the true Spirit of Christmas as she drove to her friend’s home to pick up the precious gift. She didn’t know where the money would come from to ever properly frame the print. She supposed that it would have to be left for a later time when there were sufficient funds, but she couldn’t wait to gift her son with the print.
When she arrived at her friend’s home, all arrayed in the most beautiful and fanciful of Christmas decorations, the beloved friend presented the little old lady with the cherished print. The little old lady was beyond grateful…and then the friend showed the little old lady a large box. In addition to the print which the friend had ordered, the artist, himself, had spent considerable time and money to send a gorgeously framed and signed print of the painting for the little old lady.
For several other reasons which have no bearing on this particular story, the little old lady was due to have a very challenging Christmas season, though, no matter what, the reason for the season is always Christ for her, so there is no such thing as a bad Christmas…nevertheless, it was to be the most challenging of her 60 years. The artist made it the very best Christmas ever for her through his compassion and generosity to a grieving, absolutely insignificant in all worldly ways, little old lady living thousands of miles away from him and whom he had never met.
The name of the print is “While Mary Sleeps”. The little old lady hopes that all who read this Christmas story will visit his website, lesteryocum.com, to view the painting and the artist’s other notable works.
Merry Christmas to all, especially those who were due, for whatever reason, to have a challenging Christmas season. May this story reignite in you a faith in the goodness of men (and women!) everywhere and continuing commitment to the real reason for the season, our Savior, Jesus Christ, Son of God.
18 Dec 2013