4 weeks before Christmas
Matthew looks over to his wife, Becky, as they’re decorating the Christmas tree. He still doesn’t know why she said yes to marry him. And now, she’s carrying their first child.
His heart is bursting with love and pride. But he’s also concerned. He promised Becky that he would look after their family, but this year has been tough. He had to take a pay cut a few months ago, and he is concerned about how they’re going to make ends meet, especially once the new baby arrives.
But he has a plan. In his spare time, he’ll take on odd jobs. In fact, his first job starts tomorrow, fixing the roof of a sweet old lady’s house. He has faith that things would turn out fine.
Matthew and Becky cuddle on the couch in front of the fire. He finished repairing the roof for the old lady, Stephanie, a week ago. Before he started the job, she was upfront with him – she couldn’t pay him much. But still, he agreed to fix the roof for her for a meager fee. The damage was too great to leave; he couldn’t just walk away leaving the old lady freezing once the snow starts to fall.
But then, when it came time to pay him, he refused to take her money. She was so kind, bringing him coffee and cookies all the time, but he could see that she was struggling even more than his family did. He just couldn’t take anything from her.
When he told Becky, she looked at him with love in her eyes: “Never apologize for helping others. Everything will turn out fine.”
One year later
Becky is sitting in front of the fire in a rocking chair, lulling little Hannah to sleep.
Matthew could swear he’s the luckiest man alive – he has the most beautiful wife and daughter. He still couldn’t believe they managed to stay afloat this year, even with the extra money from his odd jobs.
Becky was right, everything turned out fine.
There’s a knock on the door. A postman greets him at the door, handing over a small package. That’s strange, he didn’t expect anything. He turns it over to see where it came from. Hmm… it’s from an attorney.
He sits down on the couch and opens the package. There are two letters inside. One bulky, and one slim envelope with the official logo of the attorney’s office, with a note saying: ‘Read first”.
Mr. Matthew Miller,
My client, Mrs. Stephanie Karrington, passed away last week. She left one of her most prized items to you. Her letter will explain everything.
He looks over to his wife, and answer the question in her eyes. “It’s the old lady whose roof I fixed last year. She passed away.”
Becky lays the sleeping little Sarah back in her cot, and snuggles down beside him on the couch, her head against his shoulder. She waits for him to read the letter.
Matthew opens the envelope, and as he pulls out the letter, a string of pearls falls out and onto his lap. Becky gave a soft gasp as she touches the lustrous string of pearls.
He starts reading.
If you’re reading this, it means I’m finally united with my loving husband, David. You reminded me of him. You are just as kind and loving as my David was. I could see the love emanating from you as you constantly talked about your wife and unborn child. Your kindness when you refused to take my money, even though you needed it, left me breathless.
Let me tell you the story of me and David, and the string of pearls I’m leaving to you.
David and I met in Pearl Harbour in 1941, just before the Japanese raid. I was a young nurse, fresh out of college. He was a navy diver. Despite his dangerous work – or maybe because of that – he approached every day with vigor and passion. His eyes, full of life, drew me to him.
I was so proud to be his girlfriend on that fateful day. He and his team saved so many lives. For hours they were cutting open one ship after another to rescue trapped soldiers. But, he never saw himself as a hero and would laugh comments of bravery off with the words “It’s my job”.
A few months after the Japanese raid we got married. We were both poor, but that didn’t matter. We knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, so why wait?
Without rings, we said our vows and started our new life together. Despite my protests, he promised that he would make it up to me.
We didn’t see much of each other during the war. We were sent all over the world where we were needed, not always to the same place.
In 1944, he was sent to Okinawa in Japan. A few days after he left, I found out that I was pregnant with our first child. When the news reached him, he was out of his skin with joy.
Unbeknownst to me, he heard about the pearl divers in the area, and in his free time, he started diving for a local pearl farmer to harvest pearls. He asked the pearl farmer to pay him in pearl beads instead of money.
The day after the birth of our son, David arrived back in America. I was still in the hospital. I remember looking up, seeing him standing in the doorway while I was lulling our son to sleep. He was overwhelmed with his love for our family. There were tears in his eyes as he took out a beautiful string of pearls and hang it around my neck – the pearls he gathered, bead by bead, diving in the dangerous oceans of Japan.
Since that day, I wore the pearls every day. It became a symbol of our love, our sacrifices, our memories, and our devotion to each other.
Matthew turns his attention to Becky. She was crying. He unclasps the string of pearls and hangs it around her neck. He pulls her tight and kisses her on her head.
At that moment, he knew that they would be more than fine. They have each other, and they have the string of pearls – more valuable than money could buy – to remind them of their love and devotion for each other and to give them courage when things are going tough.