The elderly lady sat alone on the park bench. A light Autumn breeze ruffled a couple of white tresses escaping from her hand-knitted cap, tickling her lined, careworn face.
Once, a week, Jan Peters allowed herself two hours of freedom away from the prison that was her life. In the tiny park a half mile from her house she could try to forget her worries. Watching young children at play brought back such sweet memories of bygone years—years when everything was simpler and guilt-free. She was oh, so tired, so worn out from the battle!
“I’m getting too old to go on like this, Father. Is it getting harder, or am I just unable to cope with it any longer?” she fretted, replaying that morning’s pleas to her grown son.
“James, I know it is difficult for you to accept, but you need to see a doctor. I believe you that you heard them, but others did not and the CIA is not involved . . .”
“You just don’t get it, Mother. I tell you, they’re out to get us. If you would just wrap up in a heavy quilt when you’re sitting in your recliner like I do, you wouldn’t get zapped. That’s why you got cancer, you know . . .”
He was so insistent he was becoming agitated, which was his mother’s signal to back off.
A little boy’s freckled face peered into her veiled eyes as he grabbed the errant ball that had landed beside her.
“If only we had recognized the signs of James’ mental illness when he was as young as this child,” as she smiled at the impish countenance of the youngster, “James once resembled that same roguish innocence. When did it start, Lord? I guess his little quirk of pacing, trancelike, with his arms stiffly at his side with flapping hands when he was a teenager—but, Doctor Burns thought it was just a stage he would grow out of . . .”
It seemed back then that everyone had it in for her boy, taunting and making fun of him at school. It had taken her years to realize that James exaggerated and inflamed incidents in his mind all out of proportion to the actual conversation or event in question. She and his daddy had succeeded in convincing him to get counseling twice, but by that time, he was old enough to refuse the diagnosis or treatment. There was another downward spiral during and after his stint in the Navy. Ultimately, he was discharged, although the family never were able to discover exactly what had happened.
“High-functioning schizophrenic”, a psychiatrist had told them, recommending they read books and literature on the subject, “but, now that James is an adult, we cannot enforce his medication. The very nature of his mental illness keeps him from understanding he needs treatment. You see, the voices in his head tell him we’re the ones that are ‘crazy’.”
James’ condition was not discussed outside of his immediate family, and even then, only in whispers. It was a well-guarded secret Jan had insisted upon because she did not want him labeled. It would wreck his chances for jobs and turn people against him, she had reasoned. And, he mostly had been able to keep his jobs in spite of everything.
How hopeless, how helpless they were to help him.
“Oh, God, he is so lost,” Jan sorrowed.
“HE IS NOT LOST TO ME, MY CHILD.”
Jan looked over her shoulder. Was she ‘hearing things’ like her son?
“Lord help us, if that’s so,” she mumbled.
Nevertheless, Jan felt comforted as God continued to minister to her soul, reminding her of His love and power and grace.
“I know, I know, but please, won’t You intervene for James—make him normal?”
But this time God was silent . . . Jan got up stiffly and returned home to plead her case to James again . . .
“James, would you do it just for me, Son? My health is declining and I will not be around forever,” fearing for his future without her to pick up the pieces the times he fell apart.
“All right, Mom, if it will make you feel better, but just once. I don’t trust them at all. Remember the last time I went to the dentist and he planted cameras in my fillings?”
“But I can always hope,” she thought as James pulled out of the driveway for his appointment.
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