It was a Wednesday. Allison’s caterpillars came in the mail yesterday; five little larva, not more than a few centimeters when they arrived, they have already grown to a full inch. Those caterpillars eat like little piggies! Allison enjoys checking their cup throughout the day and it is cool that they grow so fast.
It is 3:30 a.m. and Allison and I are traveling up to my mom’s home. The past days have been a roller coaster of emotions with the news of Mom changing daily. After a month in the hospital, we have learned she has a faulty heart valve that is causing fluid to back up in her lungs. The solution is open heart surgery, but she is high risk. Her years of smoking mean they don’t know what condition her heart and arteries will be in, they don’t know if her lungs will work enough to get her off the ventilator. So our choices are intrusive high-risk surgery, with a long recovery that may not work, or go home and things will get worse. She opts for the surgery, but is scared. Today is the day before the surgery and we need to be at the hospital early for pre-op testing that will take most of the day. Allison has her Jesus card with her, she is hoping to give it to Grandma and tell her about Jesus. I have a prayer shawl the ladies from St Gabe’s made for her.
It is still dark out as we drive and the streets are quiet. The silence is broken, when out of the back seat I hear, “Grandma, I’m bored.“
“Well, I will tell you what I usually do as I am driving to work on my long drive. But you may not like it.”
“I pray the rosary.”
“Oh, I love the rosary!” Allison enthusiastically replies.
And so in the quiet, dark drive Allison and I pray the rosary together. I love the sound of her little voice coming out of the back seat as she says the Hail Mary and Glory Be.
When we get to her house, she is ready to go. I present her with the prayer shawl and tell her how the ladies have prayed for her and every time she wraps it around her shoulders, she will be embraced with love and prayers. My sister tells her that she has been added to prayer lists in her community. She nods. “Can we pray with you, Mom?” “Not now,” she replies.
Allison has her prayer card of Jesus. It is the prayer card she has had her entire young life. As a baby, it sat in a frame with our family pictures and when we played “Who’s that?” Jesus was always there, always part of our family. When she was a little older, Jesus became her Great Helper through this card. (That’s another story, “Toilet Paper, Stickers and The Great Helper”) When she started a new school, we taped her Jesus card to the inside of her daily folder, so she knew she had Jesus with her at school as she opened her folder. Currently, she likes her Jesus card to be by her bed, so she knows he is watching over her at night. I am surprised she wants to give away her Jesus card.
In a very unceremonious way, Allison hands the Jesus card to Grandma Bobbi. “Here Grandma,” she says. Then she looks at me. “Tell her about Him.”
I had been wondering how to bring this subject up with my mom. When she entered the hospital, they asked her religious preference and she said, “NONE.” It has been on my mind that she may be open to, maybe even desire to know God. But how do I bring it up? All my life, she has vehemently opposed any conversation about Jesus. I kept wishing she was Catholic so I could just simply ask if she would like Anointing of the Sick before her surgery. But she isn’t Catholic, so that’s not an option. So how do I ask her if she wants to talk to someone about Jesus? Who do I call to get one of his shepherds (a priest, or reverend, or chaplain) to come see her and how do I ask her if she wants to see someone?
And now here we are, Allison simply says, “Tell her about Him.” (And here I thought she was going to do it. Lame Sauce. )
Completely unprepared, I say, “Allison wants you to know about Jesus. She wants you to have Jesus with you when you have your surgery. She wants you to know the Peace that He brings, which is not the peace of this world.”
That’s it? Awkward. That’s my evangelization message for my mom? And I timidly blame it on the six year old?
My mom nods. “That’s nice,” she says. She looks at Allison, “Thank you Allie, that’s very nice of you.”
And so we are off to pre-op. We load the cars; Allison goes with my sister to be taken to school later. I load up mom so we can make the 50 mile drive to the hospital for a day of uncomfortable tests.
And the Jesus card? Still lying on her coffee table, right where Grandma set him as soon as Allison handed him to her.