Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Answered Prayer

The drive from her home of sixty years was only a few blocks to her new apartment at the assisted living community, but it felt like time was holding our breath and would not release it.  I could see the tears run down my ninety-one year old mother-in-law's face. For months we'd all prayed for God's help in caring for her.   "Alleen, we only want the best for you.  You are lonely and scared in your home and afraid to cook.  Please give this a chance.  You might really like your new apartment."  I pleaded.  "I don't see how I can." Then she put out her bottom lip and dropped her head in resignation. My heart sank even lower, and I asked myself, "Whatever have we done?"

It was a long slow walk down the hallway, as Alleen pushed her walker with her two sons Jack and John beside her, and me walking behind carrying a few bags of household items. Unbeknownst to her, Jack and I had already moved in a new dusty rose colored love seat, an end table, a small table with two chairs, wall mounted TV, a new twin bed, with bedspread and drapes in shades of watery blues and muted rose, and shower curtain of soft rose tones with raised flowers decorated in pearls and lace adding dimension to the curtain.  Now we carried pictures and wall hangings from home, some kitchen ware, lamps, and shelving to call it home.  

When she at last looked up after walking into the apartment, her eyes saw the new turquoise watery blue drapes with the winter sun flashing through the shades, then her eyes saw the new rose colored love seat.  She looked no more and pushed the walker to the love seat and plopped down.  I didn't know whether she'd smile or cry.

One by one her sons carried in framed family pictures, painted artwork from her kids, a prized picture of bears photographed by Art Wolfe, and a few what nots.  Alleen is never without words, so when she caught her breath she began, "You shouldn't have.  You shouldn't have.  This is so pretty.  I had no idea you would buy pretty things for my apartment.  That's a new dresser isn't it?  Now I can open a drawer, and it won't fall out on my foot.  Everything I have at home is old and broken."  She paused to smile, "I don't deserve this.  I've just been a cry baby for months now and made your lives miserable.  Why did you do this?"  Before we could even speak she continued, "Is this all mine?"  

A collective sigh of relief spread throughout the room as John, Jack and I smiled and reassured her how much we loved her.  One by one the boxes and sacks were emptied, with Alleen orchestrating the final set up on her new apartment.  I unwrapped a twelve inch pale white stone statue of Mary on a donkey holding the baby Jesus with Joseph walking beside them.  It had been hidden on a shelf back in Jeannie's old bedroom, but when I discovered it, while packing, it seemed it needed to go to the new apartment. I held it and asked where she'd like placed or if she even wanted it.  

She smiled and took a deep breath.  "I want it right there on that shelf."  She pointed to the half wall shelf dividing the living room and bedroom. "Where did you find that?"  Her breathing suddenly became labored, and we all stopped. With her hand on her heart she continued, "I haven't seen it in years.  You gave it to me a long time ago, and I just loved it.  I worried that we had broken it or lost it somewhere." 

I looked again at the statue.  I did love its humble beauty. "Are you sure I gave it to you?" "Oh, yes.  One year when you lived in Kansas you bought it," she replied.  I studied it again, and then recalled how I enjoyed shopping at Stutzman's Nursery at Christmas time when the greenhouse was filled with poinsettias, and the gift shop sparkled with ornaments and Christian decor. We both smiled at the recognition.  "You're right Alleen, I did buy this. I'm so glad you remembered."  

She smiled and dropped her head down at a sideways bow. "Thank you.  Thank you."  She began.  "We can leave it there all year to watch over me."  

She seemed happy and relaxed for the first time in months and months.  I quietly reflected, God does amazing work in our answered prayers.   

If you'd like to read the prequel to The Answered Prayer click on the link below to read "The Move."
One Woman's Day story


  1. Well, this is just the best! I am so happy for you all that she loves her new apartment. Setting it up so pretty for her was just what she needed. I’m sure she was overwhelmed with the idea of moving and all that it entails. Even though she probably knew you would do most of it for her, all the new stuff was such a nice surprise for her. nv

  2. LOVE your story, Letty! You & Jack had such foresight to have prepared her apartment so lovingly. Thank yo!! mb

  3. Oh Letty, what a beautiful story! I read it through tears. She has good times ahead for her and so do you! She is blessed to have her family care so much. Thanks for sharing. bb

  4. So many of us "baby boomers" face such decisions regarding our parents. The story touched my heart. Keep up your good works Letty. ru

  5. Went to NEO with G. Billows. he suggested your blog. I love your stories, especially the recent one about your mother-in law. Went through the same thing with my mother. Keep your wonderful memories and stories coming!

  6. I’ll never forget meeting with my husband and sister-in-law at a local spot at lunchtime to “plot” moving my mother-in-law to assisted living. She was living with my sister-in-law and her husband (we were all working at the time); she was lonely, bored, unhappy and inactive… and making the entire family miserable. She had not done as well as hoped after knee surgery because she would not exercise, and her macular degeneration was dramatically affecting her life. It seemed cruel and was very difficult, but once accomplished it turned out to be the very best thing for her. She had full-time help, made friends, and began to get back into “life”… She at first felt we were banishing her, but that changed, and when a new and better assisted living home opened up, she was thrilled to go there… better apartment… better meals… more friends… and she was a much happier person. She lived there until she became ill and was diagnosed with lymphoma. Within two months she was gone. But she had friends who came to visit her in the hospital… and they’d giggle and gossip like girls. She got her life

  7. Beautiful story. A good answer to your prayer. cr

  8. What a beautiful ending for your mother-in-law. I loved the story. The colors you chose for her room were just right, not overpowering and made so home like for her.jr