A Gift from Mae

Although I work for the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, I am a United Methodist preacher’s daughter. And in the eleven years since I’ve moved out of my parents’ house, they have moved twice. So, strangely enough, when I tell people that I’m going “home” to visit my parents, what I actually mean is that I’m going to visit my parents in a town that I wasn’t born in, didn’t grow up in, didn’t go to school in and don’t even know how to get to Wal-Mart in.


My parents are entering their sixth year at their current “appointment.” Because I’m very busy at my own church, most weekends that I visit them, I only stay until Saturday night. That way, I’m in my own church on Sunday mornings. But three or four Sundays a year, I’ll stay to hear my Dad preach. Still, because I’m not often there, I really only know about ten or twelve of my Dad’s church members.


One of the lovely things about being the pastor’s daughter is that even though I don’t know my Dad’s parishioners, they “know” me. They see me on the few Sundays I’m there. They hear my life story used as sermon illustrations quite often. And twice, my Dad has shared with them from my own blog posts. Most recently, he reprinted my “Sand Dollars” story on the front page of their October church newsletter.


Last Christmas, I took several days of comp time during the weeks before Christmas. I packed my suitcase and my dog and spent the time at my parents’ house. And during that time, my Dad invited me to join him on some visits with some of his older “shut in” parishioners. One afternoon around tea time we found ourselves having coffee and Christmas cookies with two ninety-something sisters, Dot and Mae.


Dot and Mae have lived together nearly seventy years—since Dot’s husband was killed in action in WWII. Mae and her husband took Dot—who was pregnant—in to live with them and then helped Dot raise her son, Johnny. When Mae’s husband died, the sisters just stayed together. And for seventy years, they have shared their lives.


When Daddy and I visited Dot and Mae last Christmas, we could see that Dot was becoming very feeble. She was in a wheelchair and ladies from the church had begun coming over to spend the days and nights with the sisters to care for them. But even as family and friends filtered in and out of the house that Christmas Eve day, we chatted and had a great little visit.


That was my first visit with the sisters and it was to be my last visit with Dot. Recently, she passed away. And sadly, Mae (who will be ninety-six on her next birthday) just can’t live alone anymore.  On Saturday, she will move across the state to live with her nephew, Johnny.


Yesterday, Daddy went to visit Mae one more time. Before he left her, she handed him a flat, plastic-wrapped object and said, “This is for Sarah.” It’s a shadow-boxed sand dollar that her nephew Johnny made for her years ago. She had so enjoyed my Sand Dollar story that she wanted me—a young lady she’d only met once—to have it. She knew that it would mean something to me.


It’s such a small thing. A shadow-boxed sand dollar. But it’s something that I will treasure forever.


When I started writing, I did it as a desperate attempt to converse with God. I knew that God was out there, but I didn’t know if He really wanted to hear what I had to say. But I wrote to Him. And He heard me. And He answered me. He was my audience of one.


When I started writing my blog, I knew people would read it. But I didn’t know who would read it. And I didn’t really expect many people to read it. There’s so many other blogs out there that have so much more sparkle and panache than mine. And so, I continued writing for my audience of one. I just put my little “Dear God” letters out there where anybody could read them.


Mae read this story and it touched her heart. And because she has touched my heart, I decided that today, I’d share her story with you so that she can touch your heart, too.


God bless you, Miss Mae! May God hold you in His hands as you take your first steps into the world without your sister, Dot. But be encouraged—He is the friend that is closer than a brother—or a sister.

About Sarah Salter


  1. Sarah, this has me all choked up for many reasons. I love your posts and to think of them as your personal letters to God makes them all the more meaningful.
    Thank you for sharing your heart!

  2. What a blessing she was to Dot and Johnny. And what a blessing Johnny is to her.

  3. That’s a beautiful story all the way around- how they took care of one another through everything and the gift she gave you. Very nice to “think on” these good things. 🙂

  4. Sarah Salter says:

    Bridget, Helen, and Jason – Thanks so much for your sweet words and encouragement!

  5. What a beautiful Spirit Mae has! See, you just never know what your words mean, Belle! You have such an amazing gift. I am so glad to be able to be blessed by it as well 🙂

  6. This is wonderful, Sarah. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  7. Oh, now you’re just trying to make me cry!

    Beautiful story! Thank you for sharing it with us!

  8. Neal Salter (Papa Bear) says:

    I’m several days behind reading your thoughts and this morning as I read this I knew I had to respond. Mae’s 96th Birthday will be Monday, October 26th, so I’m going to send her this story. She loves God so much, she prays for her pastor, that’s me, faithfully and she has had to leave the home and church she has loved for more than 50 years so she can live in a safe place that will provide her needs. I will also send a copy to Johnny as he is the one who has taken her to live with he and his wife. God is good–all the time and all the time–God is good!

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