The Unexpected Gift: Jen Turano

Ever since my mom died almost ten years ago, with my dad following three years later, the Christmas season has been a little difficult for me. No longer am I flying across the country with my husband and son to celebrate the season in my childhood home, but I am now forming new traditions while trying to push aside the melancholy I experience throughout the holidays. I was incredibly close with my mom, and Christmas is just one of those times families are expected to get together, which makes her absence felt all the more deeply.

Last year was no exception to the melancholy problem, and it hit me harder than ever on Christmas Eve. Not even dressing up for church in an adorable outfit of Christmas plaid—paired with matching shoes, I must add—could lift my spirits. We arrived at church, and the peace I normally receive simply by walking through the door just wasn’t there. Finding a seat in the very back, I glanced around . . . and that’s when I saw her—an elderly lady, sitting by herself, in a pew on the opposite side of the sanctuary.

I watched her for a moment, and then I rose to my feet and told my guys we were moving. They–being quite used to me and the fact I change seats on a whim–followed me as I scooted past happy families and made my way over to the elderly lady. She lifted her head when I stopped right beside her, and her hazel eyes—eyes that were exactly the same shade my mom’s had been—twinkled with mischief. Her hair was cut in stylish bob, again, just like my mom used to wear, and her smile was infectious as she told me her name was Bobbie Sue, patted the seat right next to her, and said she’d be completely tickled if I sat with her. I introduced her to my husband and son, and she fussed over them, telling me how lucky I was to have such handsome men in my life.

We started chatting about everything, and it seemed as if I’d known Bobby Sue forever.  She explained that her husband had only recently passed away, that she was in town with her son to visit friends, but they were singing that evening in the choir, which is why she was sitting alone. She asked about my family, and when I told her my parents were gone, she reached over, took my hand in hers, and said, “You’re missing your mom, aren’t you?”

Bobbie Sue never let go of my hand. She held it throughout the service, even when we sang carols, which meant I held one side of the hymnal while she held the other. When it came time to light the candles, mine, of course, wouldn’t light at first, but when it finally sputtered to life, she leaned closer and whispered, “That’s my darling girl,” exactly like my mom had whispered so many times to me in the past.

When the lights came up, both Bobbie Sue and I had tears in our eyes, but they were happy tears, brought about by two kindred spirits finding each other on a special Christmas Eve. Her son came to collect her, and pleasantries were exchanged. When he went to pull her away, she stopped him, moved closer to me, and then gathered me into a strong embrace, whispering in my ear that she’d lost her daughter years ago, but I reminded her of that daughter and she’d been so blessed that night by being given the opportunity to sit with me. She stepped back, patted my cheek, called me a “darling girl” again, and then she was gone.

The sense of peace I’d been missing settled over me, and as I walked with my guys to our car, brushing tears away as I went, I realized that God had seen into my heart, knew exactly what I needed that Christmas Eve, and gave me an unexpected gift of love—a gift by the name of Bobbie Sue.

My greatest wish this Christmas season is that everyone will experience peace, love, and their own version of a Bobbie Sue.

Merry Christmas!

How has God given you peace during difficult Christmases?

Connect with Jen on Facebook and her website.


Most Recent Release: A Talent for Trouble

A Talent for Trouble

After getting into one scrape after another, are Grayson and Felicia destined to spend the rest of their lives keeping each other out of trouble?

20 thoughts on “The Unexpected Gift: Jen Turano

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Jen. LIke Anne, I too, have started my day with tears in my eyes. I lost my Mom almost two years ago and Christmas is definitely difficult. What a gift God gave you and Bobbie Sue that night. He’s so gracious. Blessings to you this Christmas.

    • Thank you, Dani! I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your mom. It’s a hurt that never really goes away and the Christmas season can be especially difficult when we’ve lost someone we love.

      God bless you this Christmas season!

      ~ Jen ~

  2. Oh, Jan! You made me cry. What a wonderful story . . . I lost my mom four years ago and miss her terribly, especially during the holidays. But the traditions live in! This year I’m teaching my youngest son how to make the traditional turkey dinner they way she did. She’d love it 🙂

    • Hi Victoria!
      How fabulous that you’re passing on the traditions to your son. My mom was not what you’d call a wonderful cook and she passed that talent on to me…needless to say, it hasn’t been very difficult to teach my son the traditional turkey dinner my mom used to make – it’s usually over-cooked and don’t even get me started on the state of the mashed potatoes….my mom would definitely get a kick out of those:)

      Hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas!

      ~ Jen ~

  3. At the risk of repeating what everyone else has said; I am sitting here crying, but they are tears of joy that our Father was thinking of you! How beautiful that He sent you the gift of a Mother’s love just when you needed it most! GOD truly is a present help in time of trouble! Thank you so much for sharing this precious story with us! Merry Christmas!

    • Hi Teresa,

      Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my story. It was a true blessing and yes, God did give me exactly what I needed that Christmas Eve.

      God bless you and yours this Christmas season, and I wish you joy for the New Year!

      ~ Jen ~

  4. I know the feeling about not being in a Christmas mood. For some reason this year seems worse. My mom died 2 yrs and eight months ago. My sister Linda died in 2008 around Christmas and the next Christmas my aunt,who my sister was named for,died. Dad has been in a nursing home since about 2 mon after he went to nursing home. He is an hour away from me and between my other sister,brother and I we are with him every single night to feed him his supper. Mom and dad were married for 62 yrs when she died. God be with you and you met an angle in church. How awesome is that.

  5. I’m so sorry to learn about all the losses you’ve had, Bonnie. My mom was in a nursing home toward the end and it was incredibly difficult because she was in Ohio and I’m out by Denver. I certainly earned a lot of frequent flyer miles that year. My dad, however, died exactly how he wanted – walking out of his office and then…he was just gone. He’d had a near-death experience years before he died and he always said that after that, he wasn’t afraid of death in the least – he’d seen what was on the other side – but he just didn’t want to go through that type of pain again. He got his wish, although it was quite the shock to get the call saying he was gone. Enjoy what time you can with your dad. It’s wonderful that you and your siblings take turns sharing dinners with him.

    I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and hope you’ll find a small measure of peace this year.

    All the best,

    ~ Jen ~

  6. Tears are running down my cheeks . . .

    Thank you for sharing. I lost my mother on Oct. 24th of this year. I’m praying that God will bless our family with our own Bobbie Sue, and I will be open to seeing his hand in action.

    God bless,

  7. I’m very sorry for your loss, Carol. The first Christmas without a mom is definitely the worst so I pray God will send you a sense of peace this season.

    Wishing you and yours all the very best,

    ~ Jen ~

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