The Secret Within the Gift

Katherine LargeMother grew up on a Kentucky farm during the Depression. Books were a luxury and much treasured when received as a gift.
          Mother left the farm to attend Vanderbilt University, where she lived with her uncle and aunt. Uncle’s wife shared Mother’s love of reading and later left us many boxes of books. When mother died, the books found a home with me.
          One cold, snowy day I searched the collection for something to read. I pulled out Katherine by Anya Seton. Between the pages I found a card. The book had been a new release when mother received it as a 1954 Christmas gift from Mr. Barksdale, her employer during the war years.
          I settled in with the red volume and a cup of tea. The titlc character was a real person, Katherine de Roet, born in 1350 England. Her descendants included Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and Mary Queen of Scotts. This lengthy, fictionalized account of Katherine’s life occupied me for many evenings.
          Halfway through the book, a nagging thought began to distract me. There was something I had forgotten. I dug out my family genealogy notebook, stored away after several years of obsessive research. Sure enough, Mr. Barksdale’s gift was the story of Mother’s own ancestor. Neither Mother nor Mr. Barksdale ever knew the connection.