Some of the most meaningful gifts are those that connect us with the ones we love. When 79-year-old Frances Jones was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, she wasn’t surprised by the amount of support that she received from her family, as they had always been tight-knit, however; while her children and grandchildren rallied around her the weeks before she was scheduled to undergo chemotherapy, there was something missing…her beloved husband.
After 56 years of marriage, the two were pulled apart when Leroy Jones passed away in February of 2014.
Knowing how heartbroken Frances, also known as “Maw Maw,” was, considering she had to go through this challenging time without her soulmate, her granddaughter, Maddie Smith decided to make her something that would comfort her during those tough days.
“I wanted him to be there for her,” said Maddie. “I was going to do a chemo care package… and I thought, ‘What if I got one of his shirts and put it on a blanket?’ It would be like he was there for her.”
Under the guise that Maddie was interested in making a blanket with her grandfather’s shirt for herself, she spent some time with Frances, picking out a piece of clothing that she knew would be sentimental. It wasn’t hard for Maddie to get an article of clothing that was special because Frances was well-versed in his most commonly worn outfits.
“I asked, ‘Which one do you remember him wearing the most?’ and she said, ‘Oh, he was always in this one. He loved this one the most,’” Maddie recalled.
After recruiting her aunt to help, Maddie was able to sew the shirt to the blanket and have it ready just in time for Christmas.
“I was so excited about it because it ended up looking really good!” Maddie said with a laugh. “And it really felt like my grandpa was there.”
True to their values, the Oklahoma-based family was all together when it was time to present the surprise gift to Frances.
Maddie hit record on her camera as soon as Frances started to unwrap the blanket which she had wrapped in another blanket and she managed to capture a full range of emotions from the matriarch of the family.
“I didn’t even have wrapping paper to wrap the present, so I wrapped it in another blanket, and she’s cracking up because she had gotten like five other blankets from people,” Maddie said. “But then she sees it… I explained the thought behind it, that it’ll be like he’s there, and it was one of those moments that no one expects; it just consumes you.”
The touching moment brought out a wide range of emotions for everyone in the family, as it was hard not to be saddened that Leroy couldn’t be there as her support system during the tough time.
While the video is emotional, the family has no doubt that Frances will get through this.
“She’s got extremely high spirits,” Maddie said. “I know she wishes my grandpa was here, but she does want to fight this. We have faith that it’s all going to work out.”