"Oh no, you take it."
I wonder how many times I heard my Mom say that in the years we spent together.
She was one of those totally selfless people who always put others ahead of herself. If offered a plate of cookies, she would study them all carefully, and then take the smallest one. Every time. Even when she was the oldest person in the room, she would look around and take the least comfortable chair. If there wasn't enough pork chops to go around at the supper table she would say she really didn't like pork chops and we should share that last one.
One very cold winter night when my Dad was out of town on a business trip, our furnace went out. It was an oil furnace set under the floor and oil flowed into it from a tank in the yard beside the house. It was so cold that the pipe that brought the oil in had frozen, stopping the flow and the furnace went out in the middle of the night. The house was small, with thin walls and it didn't take long to get very cold.
So Mom got up and started boiling water. Each time the water was boiled, she would carry the kettle out, through the snow, and pour it over the offending pipe. She did this several times until finally the pipe thawed and the furnace could be re-lit.
The remarkable thing about this is that she had a big fur coat, a muskrat I think, that she had inherited from her aunt. She hardly ever wore it, preferring her plain, wool coat, unless it was really cold. But she did not wear the fur coat that night, even though it must have been around twenty degrees below zero. She came into the bedroom where my sister and I were sleeping and put it over us.
I remember my sister saying, "Mom, you should wear this!"
But she said, "No, you take it."
That was a long time ago, and she has been gone for seven years. But sometimes, I am awakened in the middle of a cold winter night and I can feel her loving presence as she tenderly places that fur coat over me.