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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Mother (as in maternal parent) (04/24/08)

TITLE: Please, God
By Jan Hughes


“Do you think I have a money tree?” Mother asked. I quickly scrutinized her face to determine my level of danger. Her eyes were intense and hazel. There were two creases between her eyebrows. She was not smiling. Obviously, I had said something she did not like. I did not reply. I resorted to my dumb look. That usually worked when I unintentionally got myself into trouble. I was a little kid, and I did not know a better alternative. She was a big and strong and fast. She had a mean right hook. Most of all, she was my mother.

My mind was racing. I wanted to ask her, “What does a money tree have to do with wanting boots?” It did not seem to be a good time for questions. She was serious, and that meant it was important to her. I knew my mother would never lie. I decided that if not having a money tree was the problem, I would come up with a solution.

I planted quarters first. With little kid logic, I thought the biggest coins would grow into the biggest trees. Since it took me longer to earn the quarters than to earn the other coins, I thought she would be happy with the enormity of my gifts to her. I dug down with my little fingers, plopped the quarters into the ground of my grandparents’ yard, tamped the soil carefully, and with joy in my heart, waited for them to grow. I imagined the look on her face at the moment she would see her very own money trees. I tried to remember where they were so I would not chop them off with the mower. I watered them when the ground was dry. Out of the faithful love of a daughter for her mother, I checked them every day. Weeks went by, and, to my surprise, nothing sprouted. Mother was still sad. It was time for a different strategy. I planted collections of nickels, dimes, and pennies. They might be smaller and not quite as nice as trees grown from quarters, I reasoned, but she would be proud of my efforts and finally happy. I was running out of money. I prayed.

Please, God, let me grow money trees for Mother so she will be happy and not sad and not angry. She deserves anything that makes her life easier. She works so hard. She receives so little in return. She is tired. She is suffering.

Of course, the money trees never grew. I probably earned a reputation as the weird kid in the neighborhood. Eventually, I learned more about botany and when to interpret her words literally. I tried to please her in other ways. I so wanted Mother to be happy. She was often sad and angry despite my best efforts.

Forty-two years later, I wonder if she remembers. I quickly scrutinize her face for clues that she knows me. She is no longer big and strong and fast. Her right hook went away over the last six months. As I gaze at the face of a mother taken away by the ravages of dementia, she is not smiling. There are two creases between her eyebrows. Her eyes are gray and distant. I pray.

Please, God, let me do something today for Mother that brings her happiness. She deserves anything that makes her life easier. She has worked so hard. She has received so little in return. She is tired. She is suffering. I know that when she is in Heaven with you, she will be finally and totally happy. Until then, I have no money tree to give her. I only have love.

2 Corinthians 1:3, New Living Translation: “All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 05/02/08
Love the story of the money tree! That could almost be expanded to be the whole story, with more dialogue and more characterization; it was quite charming.

A note: "enormity" does not mean "large size or amount"--it means "great evil." Like We may never know the enormity of Hitler's deeds. It's a very common misconception.

I like the prayers in the middle and the end, a nice touch.
Dee Yoder 05/06/08
It's so sad that the MC never quite felt the acceptance from her mother, and that, due to dementia, that might never happen. Lovely prayers for the mother.