My Mothers Hands
night, she came to tuck me in, even after my childhood years. Following
her longstanding custom, she'd lean down and push my long hair out of way,
then kiss my forehead. I don't remember when it first started annoying
me--- her hands pushing my hair that way. But it did annoy me for they
felt work-worn and rough against my young skin. Finally, one night, I lashed
out at her: "Don't do that anymore-your hands are too rough!"
She didn't say a thing in reply. But never again did my mother close out
my day with that familiar expression of her love. Lying awake long afterward,
my words haunted me. But pride stifled my conscience, and I didn't tell
her I was sorry.
Time after time, with the passing years, my thoughts returned to that night. By then I missed my mother's hands, missed her goodnight kiss upon my forehead. Sometimes the incident seemed very close, sometimes far away. But always it lurked, hauntingly, in the back of my mind.
Well, the years have passed, and I'm not a little girl any-more. Mom is in her mid-seventies, and those hands I thought to be so rough are still doing things for me and my family. She's been our doctor, reaching into a medicine cabinet for the remedy to calm a young girl's stomach or soothe a boy's scraped knee. She cooks the best fried chicken in the world... gets stains out of blue jeans like I never could... and still insists on dishing out cream at any hour of the day or night.
Through the years, my mother's hands have put in countless hours of toil, and most of hers were before perma-pressed fabrics and automatic washers!
Now, my own children are grown and gone. Mom no longer has dad, and on special occasions, I find myself going next door to spend the night with her. So it was late one Thanksgiving Eve, as I drifted into sleep in the bedroom of my youth, a familiar hand hesitantly stole across my face to brush the hair from my forehead. Then a kiss, ever so gently, touched my brow.
In my memory, for the thousandth time, I recalled the night my surly young voice complained: "Don't do that anymore-your hands are too rough!" I reacted involuntarily. Catching Mom's hand in mine, I blurted out how sorry I was for that night. I thought she'd remember, as I did. But Mom didn't know what I was talking about. She forgotten-and forgiven-long ago.
That night, I fell asleep with a new appreciation for my gentle mother and her caring hands. And the guilt I had carried around for so long was nowhere to be found.
Louisa Goddisart McQuillen
The Smell Of God
A cold March wind danced around the dead of night in Dallas as the doctor walked into the small hospital room of Diana Blessing. Still groggy from surgery, her husband David held her hand as they braced themselves for the latest news.
That afternoon of March 10, 1991, complications had forced Diana, only 24-weeks pregnant, to undergo an emergency cesarean to deliver the couple's new daughter, Danae Lu Blessing. At 12 inches long and weighing only one pound and nine ounces, they already knew she was perilously premature. Still, the doctor's soft words dropped like bombs. "I don't think she's going to make it," he said, as kindly as he could. "There's only a 10 percent chance she will live through the night, and even then, if by some slim chance she does make it, her future could be a very cruel one."
Numb with disbelief, David and Diana listened as the doctor described the devastating problems Danae would likely face if she survived. She would never walk She would never talk She would probably be blind. She would certainly be prone to other catastrophic conditions from cerebral palsy to complete mental retardation And on and on.
"No! No!" was all Diana could say. She and David, with their 5-year-old son Dustin, had long dreamed of the day they would have a daughter to become a family of four. Now, within a matter of hours, that dream was slipping away.
Through the dark hours of morning as Danae held onto life by the thinnest thread, Diana slipped in and out of drugged sleep, growing more and more determined that their tiny daughter would live- and live to be a healthy, happy young girl. But David, fully awake and listening to additional dire details of their daughter's chances of ever leaving the hospital alive, much less healthy, knew he must confront his wife with the inevitable.
"David walked in and said that we needed to talk about making funeral arrangements," Diana remembers. "I felt so bad for him because he was doing everything, trying to include me in what was going on, but I just wouldn't listen I couldn't listen.
I said, "No, that is not going to happen, no way! I don't care what the doctors say Danae is not going to die! One day she will be just fine, and she will be coming home with us!"
As if willed to live by Diana's determination, Danae clung to life hour after hour, with the help of every medical machine and marvel her miniature body could endure. But as those first days passed, a new agony set in for David and Diana.
Because Danae's underdeveloped nervous system was essentially "raw," the lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort- so they couldn't even cradle their tiny baby girl against their chests to offer the strength of their love. All they could do, as Danae struggled alone beneath the ultra-violet light in the tangle of tubes and wires, was to pray that God would stay close to their precious little girl.
There was never a moment when Danae suddenly grew stronger. But as the weeks went by, she did slowly gain an ounce of weight here and an ounce of strength there.
At last, when Danae turned two months old, her parents were able to hold her in their arms for the very first time. And two months later - though doctors continued to gently but grimly warn that her chances of surviving, much less living any kind of normal life, were next to zero - Danae went home from the hospital, just as her mother had predicted.
Today, five years later, Danae is a petite but feisty young girl with glittering gray eyes and an unquenchable zest for life She shows no signs, whatsoever, of any mental or physical impairments.
Simply, she is everything a little girl can be and more- but that happy ending is far from the end of her story.
One blistering afternoon in the summer of 1996 near her home in Irving, Texas, Danae was sitting in her mother's lap in the bleachers of a local ball park where her brother Dustin's baseball team was practicing. As always, Danae was chattering non-stop with her mother and several other adults sitting nearby when she suddenly fell silent.
Hugging her arms across her chest, Danae asked, "Do you smell that?" Smelling the air and detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana replied, "Yes, it smells like rain."
Danae closed her eyes and again asked, "Do you smell that?" Once again, her mother replied, "Yes, I think we're about to get wet. It smells like rain." Still caught in the moment, Danae shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, "No, it smells like Him. It smells like God when you lay your head on His chest."
Tears blurred Diana's eyes as Danae then happily hopped down to play with the other children before the rains came her daughter's words confirmed what Diana and all the members of the extended Blessing family had known, at least in their hearts, all along. During those long days and nights of her first two months of her life when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was holding Danae on His chest--and it is His loving scent that she remembers so well.
By Nancy Miller, Columbia Homecare Group, Dallas, Texas
In a rickety bus seat, a wispy old man sat holding a bunch of fresh flowers. Across the aisle was a young girl whose eyes came back again and again to the man's flowers. The time came for the old man to get off. Impulsively he thrust the flowers into the girl's lap. "I can see you love the flowers," he explained," and I think my wife would like for you to have them. I'll tell her I gave them to you." The girl accepted the flowers, then watched the old man get off the bus and walk through the gate of a small cemetery.
If You Love Her Enough
My friend John always has something to tell me. He knows so much that young men have to have older and more worldly wise men to tell them. For instance who to trust, how to care for others, and how to live life to the fullest.
Recently, John lost his wife Janet. For eight years she fought against cancer, but in the end her sickness had the last word.
One day John took out a folded piece of paper from his wallet. He had found it, so he told me, when he tidied up some drawers at home. It was a small love letter Janet had written. The note could look like a school girl's scrawls about her dream guy. All that was missing was a drawing of a heart with the names John and Janet written in it. But the small letter was written by a woman who had had seven children; a woman who fought for her life and who probably only had a few months left to live.
It was also a beautiful recipe for how to keep a marriage together.
Janet's description of her husband begins thus: "Loved me. Took care of me. Worried about me."
Even though John always had a ready answer, he never joked about cancer apparently. Sometimes he came home in the evening to find Janet in the middle of one of those depressions cancer patients so often get. In no time he got her into the car and drove her to her favourite restaurant.
He showed consideration for her, and she knew it. You cannot hide something for someone who knows better.
"Helped me when I was ill," the next line reads. Perhaps Janet wrote this while the cancer was in one of the horrible and wonderful lulls. Where everything is -- almost -- as it used to be, before the sickness broke out, and where it doesn't hurt to hope that everything is over, maybe forever.
"Forgave me a lot."
"Stood by my side."
And a piece of good advice for everyone who looks on giving constructive criticism as a kind of sacred duty: "Always praising."
"Made sure I had everything I needed," she goes on to write.
After that she has turned over the paper and added: "Warmth. Humour. Kindness. Thougtfulness." And then she writes about the husband she has lived with and loved the most of her life: "Always there for me when I needed you."
The last words she wrote sum up all the others. I can see her for me whe she adds thoughtfully: "Good friend."
I stand beside John now, and cannot even pretend to know how it feels to lose someone who is as close to me as Janet was to him. I need to hear what he has to say much more than he needs to talk.
"John," I ask. "How do you stick together with someone through 38 years -- not to mention the sickness? How do I know if I can bear to stand by my wife's side if she becomes sick one day?"
can," he says quietly. "If you love her enough, you can."
Submitted by Bill Walls