A Lost Family Heirloom's Long Journey Home

Her mom's beloved Bible had been lost for years, until an old acquaintance miraculously stumbled upon it. 

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- Posted on May 26, 2020

Dusty Gibson's mother's bible

I was leaving work when my phone rang.

“Hello?” I answered.

“Hey, Dusty,” said a voice. “It’s Martha.” Martha? She was an old work acquaintance, someone I hadn’t spoken to in years. “I know this is random,” she said, “but I believe I found a Bible that belongs to your family in a secondhand shop.”

I froze. It couldn’t be? Could it…?

“What does it look like?”

“It’s bound in green leather,” said Martha. “There’s a family tree on the inside, and your name is written on it! The pages are also a little singed—”

“That’s it! That’s my mom’s Bible!” I said, my hands shaking.

The Bible was a long-lost family heirloom, one I’d never expected to see again. It had been passed from generation to generation on my father’s side of the family. My father’s mother had passed it on to my mother shortly after she joined the family.

My father’s personality totally changed after the vows, Mom later said. He was verbally and physically abusive. I was young, but I can still remember the two of them screaming at each other. His threats of violence. Me cowering in fear in my bedroom, covering my ears, praying for the shouting to stop. Mom wanted to take us kids and leave. She just didn’t know how. She didn’t have a plan or any money of her own.

Then, one day, when I was seven years old, my mom took my sisters and me out to the park to play fetch with our dog. On the way back, we rounded the corner of our street to see smoke streaming from our windows. Mom ran to the door. It was hot to the touch. “Fire!” she shouted. “Go across the street and sit on the curb while I call for help!”

Luckily, no one was inside the house at the time. We watched, helpless, as the smoke thickened. Flames danced, rising higher and higher. Windows shattered from the heat. After what felt like ages to my seven-year-old mind, the fire department arrived and put out the blaze. They determined that it had been caused by a smoldering cigarette left in the ashtray in the living room.

We walked through the house, surveying the damage. Everything we owned was ruined. Everything except one item. It sat in the center of a charred coffee table, slightly singed but not too much worse for wear.

The little green Bible.

The fire turned out to be a strange blessing. Mom used part of the insurance money to buy a second car. While my father was at work one day, she piled the three of us kids, the dog and our few remaining belongings into the car and just drove. The Bible was one of the things she took with us.

She planned to drive from Ohio all the way to Florida, but we got as far as South Carolina before the car broke down. Mom figured it was far enough to keep my father from coming after us. She rented a mobile home and put our items, including the Bible, in storage.

At first, Mom was jumpy. She was terrified my father would show up and drag us back to Ohio. But thankfully, he left us alone.

A few years passed. Eventually, Mom met my stepfather, a kind and loving man. The kind of man she deserved. We moved to North Carolina as a family. The Bible was lost in the move, though Mom never forgot about it. Every so often, she’d retell the story of the little book unharmed by the flames.

Now, some 35 years later, a former coworker had stumbled across it, recognized the names inside and called me out of the blue.

Martha and I arranged to meet at a midway point between our houses. The Bible was smaller than I remembered. I opened it, carefully tracing my mother’s name with my finger. Yes, it was Mom’s Bible. I offered to pay Martha, but she refused. The shopkeeper had gifted it to her after hearing its story, she told me.

Truthfully, I would’ve paid any amount to see that look of inexpressible joy on Mom’s face as I gave it to her. She later passed away from cancer in 2005. My sister has the Bible now, with plans to pass it on to her daughter. It remains a reminder of Mom’s strength and the importance of faith. A little miracle that made it through hardship and found its way home. Just like us.

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