Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: IN-LAWS (07/11/19)
TITLE: A Walking, Talking Lesson In Grace
By Mariane Holbrook
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Her name was Ruth and she had traveled by train from North Carolina to New York State where her son, John, and I were students at a Christian college. We had been dating for two years and made plans to marry after graduation the next year.
I loved her from the moment I saw her. Friendly, godly, warm and welcoming; all traits I wanted from a mother-in-law.
The next summer she and John's father came to our wedding in upstate New York and stayed with my parents. They all bonded immediately and the fellowship was sweet.
John wanted us to move to North Carolina to further his education in preparation for teaching biology and chemistry so we rented a house not far from his parents. While he enrolled in the nearby university, I found an office job to support us for the two years it would take him to earn his master's degree.
When I arrived home one evening, John was on the phone with his father. Turning to me he said, "Mother was just diagnosed with a detached retina and is being taken to Duke Hospital for surgery. We must leave now."
Once we arrived at the hospital, she was taken immediately to surgery while we found seats in the crowded waiting room.
John and his father took turns pacing the floor while I made frequent trips to the cafeteria for coffee. I read from the gospel of John the account of Jesus healing the man blind since birth, instructing him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. Then I leafed back to the gospel of Mark, chapter 8 when Jesus came to Bethsaida and was asked to heal a blind man. Jesus took him out of town, put spittle on his eyes, laid hands on him and healed him, asking him to tell no one. I searched for all the miracles of healing Jesus performed while on earth.
We watched the clock on the waiting room wall and stared at the door leading to the surgical unit, hoping and praying for the surgeon to walk through it bearing good news.
Finally, the door swung open and the eye specialist walked over to us as we stood to greet him.
"Well, it's over and she's doing fine. There was a large tear in her retina and we tried to repair it as best we could. She's bandaged and we won't know for a couple of days whether the surgery was successful or not. As soon as she wakes, she'll be taken to her room where she must lie on her back with sandbags on both sides of her head to keep her from moving even the slightest. She will need someone with her at all times."
We all thanked the surgeon and promised that one or two of us would always be with her during her time in the hospital.
Shortly, Mother was wheeled into her room and very gently lifted by the orderlies onto the bed, careful not to disturb the surgical repair. They placed the heavy sandbags on both sides of her head to prevent any movement.
The next two days were a nightmare. Unable to change her position, her back begged for relief but she never complained. She kept asking for prayer and reading of the Scripture. We had been asked not to touch her since she might reflectively reach out to us and move even slightly.
Finally, the day came to remove the bandages. Relatives and friends were praying, as we were, that the surgery was successful.
The surgeon gently removed the patch covering both eyes, directing her to keep her eyes closed. Then she was asked to open her eye that had the retina tear. We waited breathlessly, watching.
"Tell me what you see," the doctor said softly.
Mother hesitated, blinked her eye a few times, then whispered, "I don't see anything."
We gasped and looked at each other in disbelief.
The surgeon held her hand, told her how sorry he was, but that it was like trying to repair a spider web. It was that fragile.
After a while, he left and we tried to comfort Mother. She was quiet, almost serene.
"Of course, I'm disappointed," she said, "but there's something I want you to remember. God still answers prayer and He never fails us. Healing is temporal but Grace is eternal. Given a choice, I'll take Grace every time."
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