“This is the best day we have had in a long time. Thank
you so much for making my birthday special,” Isabel said as
her birthday cake was presented after supper. Not only were
there gifts for Isabel, but also there were trinkets for each of the
children, including the babies, who were happy just playing
with the paper and boxes.
“This is just like Christmas,” Jimmy said. He jumped up
and down with excitement. “Except without the Christmas tree
and the snow.” Everyone joined him in laughter.
Before she had time to blow out the candles, a car horn
sounded outside. “Who could that be,” Jim said as he answered
the front door.
“Only your best friend in the world,” said a cheerful voice
from the foyer.
“Sally Anne!” Isabel ran to greet her friend and found that
she was not alone. She had brought her parents, a new baby
brother, Cookie, and Arlene Mason.
“Arlene, this is a surprise,” Isabel said as she tried to hide
her shock. “Thank you for coming.”
“You are welcome, Isabel,” Arlene said. “I came to apologize
for being so mean to you before. I hope you will forgive me.”
Isabel sensed that she really meant it. “Of course, Arlene,”
she said. She hugged her new friend. “This is the best birthday
ever. Come inside everyone, and have some cake and ice cream
before the boys eat it all.”
“Isabel,” Mrs. Albright said, “we have something for you
from your mother. She wanted you to have this. She made the
arrangements months ago, before the twins were born. I hope
you like it.” Mrs. Albright handed Isabel a large, handsomely
wrapped gift box that was tied with a large, satin bow.
Isabel’s hands trembled as she pulled the ribbon and opened
the box. Inside the tissue paper lay a beautiful drop-waist dress,
just as Isabel had seen in the windows at the stores in Roanoke.
“How did you know?” Isabel said. She choked back her tears.
“Your mama asked me to buy the fabric and pattern for her
several months ago. She did some sewing for me to pay for it,
even though I offered to pay the cost myself. She wanted to make
it for you, but she fell ill. So I had my dressmaker make it for
you. I knew Lizzie would want you to have it for your birthday.
No one in the school will have this fabric…it came all the way
from New York.”
“Oh, thank you, Mrs. Albright!” She ran to her benefactress
with a tearful hug. “This is the most beautiful dress I have ever
owned. Mama would be so happy if she could see it.”
“Well, keep looking, and you will discover a few more
surprises from Sally Anne, Mr. Albright, and me.”
Isabel lifted the dress and underneath found beautiful
gifts to match the dress. “Oh, look at this beautiful shawl. It
goes perfectly.” Isabel examined the lace wrap. “There is also a
handbag and a headband. Thank you so much. You were too
“There are also some under things,” Sally Anne said, “but
you don’t want to show those.” Her announcement brought
laughter and good-natured teasing from the Greene boys.
“This isn’t much, Isabel,” Arlene said. She held out a small,
white box. “I saw it in the store, and it reminded me of you. I
hope you like it.”
Isabel opened the box and found a small pin with daffodils
hand painted on it.
“Oh, Arlene,” Isabel said. “It is lovely. How did you know
I like daffodils?”
“Well,” Arlene said, “I saw you pick one at your mama’s
funeral and put it into your Bible. I thought the flower must
remind you of her.”
“It does,” Isabel said with tears in her eyes, “and now they
will remind me of you too. Thank you for remembering.”
“We miss you, Isabel,” Arlene said.
“I miss you too,” Isabel said. She realized she had even missed
“OK,” Aunt Jenny said with a box camera in hand.
“Isabel, I want to get a photograph of you with your little friends
so you can remember this day. Then we will take photographs
of everyone before it gets too dark.”
So Isabel stood with her friends for the moment to be
captured on film and cherished forever.