Another prayer quilt arrived on Kate Rowe’s porch. She’s lost count of how many she’s received by mail.
“This one’s from Ohio,” she said. “That’s a long way away.”
The Buckeye State is a world away from Quitman. This small Georgia town has little more than a few thousand folks, some antebellum homes, and one hell of a football team.
The quilt is for Kate’s son, Gus. A one-year-old with a tranquil personality, red hair, happy face. When he was born, his calm disposition wasn’t a concern. But over time, Kate thought he seemed too relaxed. She’s a nurse—she has a sixth-sense.
She took him to a neurologist. It was bad. A brain tumor. Gus needed surgery. And fast.
“Two days later,” said Kate. “We were handing our baby to a group of strangers.”
Surgeons. A specialized surgical team that operated for thirteen hours—through a microscope. And that was only the beginning. For Kate and her husband, life didn’t stop because Gus had a tumor. They had jobs.
Money doesn’t exactly grow in windowboxes.
“I called my manager,” she said “I needed to take leave. My manager was like, ‘You don’t have any paid time off left, honey.’”
That’s when it all started.
So, some of Kate’s coworkers had a plan. They surrendered their paid-time-off days to help Kate keep her job. Their charitable ideas caught on. Nearly every employee donated paid vacations.
Folks started giving money, clothes, shoes, toiletries, coffee. Daily packages began arriving. Baskets of snacks, handwritten letters. Friends in Valdosta sent baby supplies, toys, pillows. From Thomasville: enough gift-cards to fill a fifty-gallon drum.
Someone even donated a furnished apartment near the hospital.
“It was mind-blowing,” she said. “The love and support.”
In her hometown, people started a charity. “The Gus Bus,” they called it. Truckloads of bracelets were sold. You couldn’t throw a rock in Brooks County without hitting someone wearing a bracelet.
And prayer quilts.
The blankets started coming from church groups in the US. One prayer group told another. Then another.
Well-wishes spread like the common colds in the Bible Belt. Chapels pepper our landscape. They spread into the Midwest, they stretch across the West, they limp up North. That’s a lot of praying.
It’s been nine months since Gus’ surgery. Kate tells me Gus is her miracle. She says every day brings a new reason to get happy.
“The truth is,” Kate said. “I’ve never had much faith in people. I’ve been sarcastic… But this past summer, that changed. I finally see the beauty in this world.”
Beauty. This old place has enough beauty to make even the strongest man dizzy. I don’t care what your television tells you, neither do I give a cuss what reporters claim. We have givers, lovers, feeders, helpers, and listeners. We have tiny churches, brain surgeons, and folks who sell bracelets.
But even better than that, we have prayer quilts.
And, by God, we still have Gus.