Bret Lott (Adult Fiction)
“I say unto you that the baby you be carrying be yo’ hardship, be yo’ test in this world. This be my prophesying unto you, Miss Jewel…The Lord smiling down on you this way.” This is what Jewel Chandler Hilburn was told about her unborn child—her sixth and last. It was 1943 and she had already been blessed abundantly with a good marriage to a loving man, five beautiful children, and a comfortable life in the woods of Mississippi. With this child, Jewel just wanted a living, breathing baby with ten fingers and ten toes. Certainly, that couldn’t be too much to ask? But life can change in an instant and Jewel soon finds herself with a baby who is both a blessing and a burden and who will forever change the way she views life and love.
Bret Lott delivers a poignant and touching story about a mother’s relationship with her special needs daughter. Jewel is a woman who has lived a thousand lives and has seen hardship and tenderness, cruelty and kindness, but the heart of this story is the bond she shares with her daughter, Brenda Kay. Lott brings to the surface the gut-wrenching and life-altering moment when a mother looks upon her precious child—when heart and head finally reach mutual agreement—and says the words, “Something’s wrong”. We feel the heartbreak as Jewel mourns the future that she has imagined for her daughter that will never be and we see her burdened with the regret of not being there for her other children or her husband. Life is no longer measured in minutes or months, but in milestones and Jewel is there to celebrate each and every one of Brenda Kay’s. She even organizes a family picnic when Brenda Kay takes her first step at age five.
Jewel is a celebration of the love between a mother and child. Bret Lott reminds us of the tremendous gift that our children give us. As each day brings with it some amount of pain, joy, frustration, heartache, sadness, and love, we are also reminded that it is one day less that we have with them all to ourselves for the job of a parent is to love our children, protect them, guide them, and then let them go so that they can make lives of their own. It is a bittersweet role that we take on willingly and relinquish reluctantly. Our legacy is often measured through our children. They carry on our hopes, our dreams, our stories, and a bit of ourselves. As Jewel said, “My life would never end, I saw, not even in my own Brenda Kay, because of those eyes turned to me and asking what to do, the only true victory any mother could ever hope for: the looking of a child…to you for what wisdom you could give away before you left for whatever reckoning you had with the God who’d given you that wisdom in the first place.” Our children are indeed a blessing and a burden, but through their words, actions, and deeds, we too are able to see the Lord smiling down at us.
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