Like many women of a certain age, I find myself repeating my mother’s wisdom and sayings on a regular basis. A wise, strong, generous woman of deep faith, she often says that her prayer for me and my three brothers was not for our happiness or accomplishment. Rather she prayed, “May they have help when they need it.”
As the mother of three teenagers, I’ve prayed this many times over the years and been so grateful that help has been present even in frightening and unlikely circumstances. Like the man who witnessed Michael getting hit by a car just happened to have my phone number and called me after calling 911. Or the known and unknown (to me at least) times that a friend stepped in to say, “I think it’s time we leave this party” or “That doesn’t sound like a great idea.”
Help may indeed be all around us, but often we have to take the first step, especially when there’s no one else (like a parent) to give a nudge. “Don’t worry, Mom, I’m washing it every day and using triple antibiotic ointment,” Kevin said last month in describing an elbow scrape from the rugby pitch.
The surface wound healed beautifully, but 12 days later the elbow was suddenly swollen, red, and painful. After class, he went to the university health center and was promptly sent to the local hospital emergency room where he was admitted and hooked up to IV antibiotics. .
By the time I arrived the next morning, the meds were working their magic. His fever had dropped, and the swelling had decreased and stopped spreading, but it still looked pretty nasty.
With a cell phone charger borrowed from a nurse, Kevin was able to email professors, friends, and teammates to let them know that he wouldn’t be able to meet various commitments as planned. With a TV all to himself, we hunkered down for a couple of days of college and pro football games.
After 48 hours of antibiotics, he was discharged — looking forward to a shower and grateful for his student health insurance, good medical care, and a pizza lunch courtesy of Momma.
Anne Lamott says that all prayers can be simplified to three basic prayers: Please, Help, and Thank You. Sounds right to me.