A mother understands.
From the outside, Edith Rosenbaum was bursting with beauty and promise, 32 and a rising star in fashion. Her job was glamorous, working as a Paris correspondent for Women’s Wear Daily, an American fashion publication. She covered couture openings and penned a column that appeared on the front page, offering her impressions of the latest trends and the biggest personalities in the Paris fashion scene.
But her mother knew that Edith felt unsettled, rattled by a car accident she’d been in.
A frivolous gift might be just the ticket – something to induce laughter – so she bought Edith a toy pig made of papier mâché and covered in animal skin. With its black and white fur, it looked lifelike, and when its tail was wound, the pig played a popular song called “The Maxixe.”
Music, her mother said, can chase away your troubles.
Edith embraced the gift, vowing to keep it with her always.
It felt like a good-luck charm when, shortly later, she was packing for her voyage on the Titanic, the largest ship ever built. Edith loaded 19 trunks of expensive apparel along with her toy pig. Her own little mascot.
When the Titanic crashed into an iceberg and panic spread, Edith stayed calm. She locked up her trunks but made no attempt to evacuate. She was staying put.
“Don’t worry about me,” she insisted.
A sailor came along and spotted the bundle in her arms. Presuming it to be a baby, he tossed the pig in lifeboat No. 11.
“I’ll save your baby,” he barked.
An instant later, Edith jumped in with her pig.
“I never would have left the ship,” she would later recount, if the sailor hadn’t taken that initiative. “When they threw that pig, I knew it was my mother calling me.”
Boat 11 was overloaded, carrying 70 people – the largest number of occupants on any lifeboat launched that cold, starry night. As it rowed away from the sinking ocean liner, Edith surveyed her fellow travelers: crying babies, restless toddlers, frightened children.
The inky sky enveloped them – not a trace of moon, not a single cloud. It would be seven hours before the Carpathia would rescue them.
Edith knew what to do: She wound the pig’s tail.
The crying instantly halted. She passed the pig around, letting each child pet it and wind its tail.
What a contrast to the mournful wailing that rang out on the Titanic – a rollicking carnival song that called to mind balloons, magicians, and acrobats. The sound of hope on a lonely night.
Edith would live to be 95 and share her survival story. Her pig remains at the National Maritime Museum in London.
That improbable turning point on the Titanic – the pig that saved Edith’s life – reminds us that God works in and through other people. We are one body in Christ, and we do not stand alone.
We can count on that as the cold settles in and new challenges arise. Look for the little gifts that come from above and pass through other hands along the way. “We know that all things work for good for those who love God” (Rom 8:28).
And given the chance to help another – a neighbor, friend, or stranger – we, too, can be the hands and feet of Christ. An act of service, a stuffed animal. A handwritten note, a loaf of pumpkin bread, a sincere compliment. It may seem small, but it could just be the nudge needed to get on the lifeboat.
Christina Capecchi is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.
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