A Mother's Final Gift Withstands Deadly Oklahoma Tornado


Thursday, May 16th 2019, 5:05 pm
By: Tess Maune


Next week marks 6 years since an EF5 tornado devastated Moore and killed 24 people, including nine children who were at school.

The mile-wide tornado left block after block of homes nothing but piles of wood and rubble.

But in the midst of the destruction were two untouched, perfectly wrapped wedding gifts that meant everything to Melanie Anderson. They were from her mom, who died years earlier, for Melanie to someday open on her wedding day.

Melanie believes with the help of her mother's love those presents withstood Mother Nature's Fury.

After the storm, Melanie moved away from Moore.

She's now in Macomb, Oklahoma living on a farm with her husband, Alan.

The couple is planting their roots at Anderson Acres OK, with roosters, puppies, and goats. A sign hanging outside their barn reads, "life is better on the farm." It's a nice change of pace from the city life they're used to.

"I think it's more culture shock going back to the city now," said Melanie.

We first introduced you to Melanie 6 years ago. She was Melanie Wright back then, she hadn't met Alan and she had just survived one of Oklahoma's most devastating tornadoes.

"I was at school with students taking cover," Melanie said. "I pretty literally watched it hit my house."

The May 20th Moore tornado leveled her neighborhood and ripped her house apart.

"There were rooms that were just gone," she said.

But all was not lost. Somehow, through the splintered wood, destruction and debris the two things she could never replace were untouched.

"It was such a gift from God," said. "Somehow those presents were still there."

They were wedding gifts for Melanie that her mom, Cheryl, had wrapped in pretty purple paper 12 years earlier because she knew she would never get to see her daughter marry the love of her life.

"She fought for almost two years," Melanie said. "She passed away in 2001. It was a week before my 16th birthday. Breast cancer."

The presents were more than just gifts, they were a piece of Cheryl's heart and a small way to still be present on a day no mother wants to miss.

"I don't even know if I have words of how special it is and how much it speaks about her."

Melanie's mom had been gone 15 years when she met Alan in 2016. Their connection was instant, they were married the next year.

The night before their wedding after years of waiting and wondering, the two opened the presents together.

"There's definitely a sadness to it, but I see it just as a good reminder of who she was," said Melanie.

"It was pretty emotional," her husband said. "It was her mother's final gift, so that was really something amazing."

Cheryl gave the couple a crystal bowl and a crystal frame.

The frame now holds a picture from the day Melanie and Alan said 'I do.' The purple wrapping paper from her mother's gift is the perfect backdrop.

"It still has tornado debris dirt on it," Melanie pointed out. "I don't know why, but I became attached to the wrapping paper."

Her mom turned one of Melanie's baby bonnets into a handkerchief. Melanie tucked it in her dress, next to heart, before she walked down the aisle.

Cheryl also wrapped up Melanie's baby Bible, along with a special poem -- one Melanie can soon read to her child because she and Alan are having a baby of their own.

"16 weeks, little boy," Melanie said with a big smile. "Alexander Lee."

It's all proof that even through the storms of life, it does go on -- it gets better.

And those gifts from her mom, show even those we lose are always with us.

"There's definitely so many parts of this story that she had to have had a hand in it. It only could have been her and God upstairs orchestrating all of it," Melanie said.

She says her mother's final gift represents a life that ended too soon, but also survival.

"So where she did lose her life and all the heartbreak that came from that... now it gets to represent surviving probably one of the lower moments of my life," said Melanie.

But more than anything, it represents Melanie starting a new life, a really good one.