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A Gift of Love From Amma

A story about a unique gift from Amma to Doreen that is treasured far beyond its physical presence, but also with heartfelt memories and much love.

by Doreen (Borgfjord) McFarlane

My Amma didn’t have many possessions. Still, she made a firm decision to give each of her many grandchildren a gift to remember her after she left this world. The year she gave us gifts, she was eighty-six and I was nine. The gift she gave me has been treasured all my life. I always feared losing it simply because it is small and I can at times be careless. But I am no longer young and I still have this true gift of love.

Amma emigrated from Iceland in 1888 and settled in Arborg, Manitoba, with my Afi, as homesteaders. They raised nine healthy children on that farm. They had many grandchildren as well as great-grandchildren. She was an excellent cook, a founding member of the Lutheran Church’s “Ladies Aid Society,” and a powerful family and community leader. But she never spoke a word of English.

The gift she chose for me was a silver filigree cross on a chain, magnificent in its simplicity. It has instilled in me feelings of hope and of faith, offering the presence of God in all that a cross represents, while also making me feel warm and loved every time I look at it or wear it.

The silver cross pendant gifted to Amma then Doreen.
The silver cross pendant gifted first to Amma then passed on to Doreen.

I don't know what gifts were given to the others, but my gift is very special to me. Many years ago, someone sent the cross pendant to Amma as a gift from her beloved Iceland, a place where she had never returned. I was told Amma had forever longed for her homeland. Yet, instead of holding tight to this treasure, Amma had chosen it for me. I am the only child of her youngest son, and I always sensed I held a unique place in her heart.

Amma and I did not share the gift of language. One time she simply demonstrated how to make and bake a raisin pie. No words were needed. The same was when Amma gave the silver cross to me. She gently placed it in my hands, kissed me tenderly, and turned back to her kitchen stove to prepare the next meal.

This beloved gift represents much more. I believe it came with her hope for my happy future, the expectation that I would love it and keep it safely, and also with the understanding that, as the only daughter of her precious youngest son, I would keep the memory of her in my mind as I moved into the future. And I have always done just that.

Thank you. Thank you, my dear Amma, for your valued gift. You will never be forgotten.


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