Folded Hands

The next morning, I found her sitting cross-legged on an easy chair. Her eyes closed, whispering to the ceiling fan. The skin around her eyelids wrinkled like tissue paper.

My earliest memory is of my mother. She’s at a breakfast table. She sits alone in a gaudy brown kitchen, head bowed, hands folded.

She is speaking in a whisper, I don’t know who she’s talking to. I’m too young.

Her eyes are closed. The sun is rising in the window behind her. She’s dressed for work, sipping coffee.

“What’re you doing?” I ask.

“That’s between me and the Good Lord,” she says.

My teenage years. A few years after my father took his own life. These were hard years. She sat on an a burgundy sofa. She closed her eyes and whispered toward the ceiling.

I couldn’t make out her words.

“What’re you doing?” I asked.

“It’s between me and the Good Lord,” she says.

Over time, I grew into my big feet, and my large nose. I turned into a man—sort of.

My mother fell ill. Deathly ill. She moved to Atlanta so my aunt and uncle could care for her.

I drove to Clayton County to visit her. She greeted me in the driveway at 2 A.M. on a cold November morning.

In the glow of my headlights stood the once-healthy woman who raised me. She was nothing but hickory sticks and muscle.

The next morning, I found her sitting cross-legged on an easy chair. Her eyes closed, whispering to the ceiling fan. The skin around her eyelids wrinkled like tissue paper.

Doctors told us the disease would kill her. The illness was eating blueberry-sized holes in her muscles. It would eventually reach her heart.

“What’re you doing?” I asked.

She didn’t answer.

Then, she touched my hair. “You know that when you were a toddler, I used to rub your hair like this, and it would make you go to sleep?”

She rubbed my hair. I leaned into her lap the way I did when I was a child.

The woman held a grown man the way she’d once held a three-year-old.

“You take good care of your sister,” she said.

I cried so hard my stomach hurt.

I left Georgia early the next morning. I had to be home for work. That’s what people like us did. We worked.

That’s what Mama had always done. She worked from age twelve until the Second Coming. She walked to work before she had a car—that’s the way things were. God’s busy little worker.

I wanted to be what she wanted me to be. I wanted Mama to be proud of me, whether she was in Clayton County, or the gold bannisters of Heaven.

On the morning I left for home, she hugged me. Before I took the interstate, I veered off at a gas station. I sat in my truck and said a few words to my dome light.

“Please, Lord, let her live,” was all I could get out.

Please.

I think about that day a lot. I’m not a particularly good person, and I don’t always do things I should. But the one in the sky did me a favor. He did a miracle on that woman, he made her well. In fact, he’s done a lot for me.

I could tell you more about it, but I’d better not.

That’s between me and the Good Lord.

32 comments

  1. Judy Kate - November 5, 2018 6:56 am

    Sean, I thank the Good Lord for performing a miracle on your dear mother. I’m beyond grateful that He’s still in the prayer-answering, miracle-performing business. We are always worthy in His eyes, even when we feel otherwise. I’m stealing Edna’s line this morning … Hugs, JK

    Reply
  2. Mary Burns - November 5, 2018 8:59 am

    Thank God for small favors and big miracles!

    Reply
  3. Steven P Bailey - November 5, 2018 10:40 am

    Beautiful.

    Reply
  4. Dale T. Edwards - November 5, 2018 10:42 am

    How eloquently you tell of my youth! Just beautiful, I can’t wait to read the next one. Thank you for sharing your talent to tell things that was only a memory of growing up in the South, I just love it!

    Reply
  5. Jean - November 5, 2018 11:05 am

    Thank the Lord for big and small miracles along the way.

    Reply
  6. Nancy Rogers - November 5, 2018 11:09 am

    As it should be, as it should be. Amen.

    Reply
  7. Sandra Smith - November 5, 2018 11:19 am

    I’m so glad he heard you tho.
    ❤❤❤❤

    Reply
  8. BJean - November 5, 2018 12:12 pm

    O, but I would love to hear the rest of that story! Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  9. DiAnne Patrick - November 5, 2018 12:45 pm

    Just listened to a story on NPR. David Axelrod and Karl Rove became friends because both of them had lost a parent to suicide.

    Reply
  10. Linda Pouncey - November 5, 2018 12:51 pm

    Tell us more about you and the good Lord. We like to hear that. So thankful He made your mother well again. He is good..

    Reply
  11. Betty R. - November 5, 2018 1:13 pm

    Phwew…this one took the wind out of me…

    Reply
  12. Martha Tubb - November 5, 2018 1:18 pm

    How beautiful….precious and inspiring !!

    Reply
  13. Cathi - November 5, 2018 1:38 pm

    Ok, ugly cry before 6am. Mamas are irreplaceable and greatly missed.

    Reply
  14. Connie Havard Ryland - November 5, 2018 1:41 pm

    It’s funny (not haha funny, just amazing funny) that you wrote this today. I woke up this morning thinking of a woman who prayed for me (and many others of course) and she changed my life. Not my mom. Not even a blood relative. But she reached out to God on my behalf. She’s been in Heaven for many years now, but every time I feel the need to give up, I still feel her praying for me. God bless you. Give your momma an extra hug when you see her.

    Reply
  15. Jack Darnell - November 5, 2018 3:12 pm

    Okay dude, this one hits home. I forwarded it to my family. You said a lot, thanks………. and thanks.

    Reply
  16. Ednas B. - November 5, 2018 3:16 pm

    I agree, thank God for miracles and blessings. When you see your mom next, give her a hug from me too. You’re a good son Sean. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  17. Pat - November 5, 2018 3:33 pm

    Not sure I could have finished this article if I didn’t know that mama was still living. Good thought for Christians, we can finish the article because we know he lives.

    Reply
  18. Carol - November 5, 2018 3:38 pm

    Happy Red Head day Sean!!
    Love ya!

    Reply
  19. Dianne - November 5, 2018 4:00 pm

    What a wonderful story of faith and hope and trust!! Thank you, Sean.

    Reply
  20. Shelton Armour - November 5, 2018 4:03 pm

    Prayer is a powerful thing. Glad your answer was, “Yes.”. God bless you and yours.

    Reply
  21. Sue Cronkite - November 5, 2018 8:30 pm

    This is one of your very best.

    Reply
  22. Janet Mary Lee - November 5, 2018 9:42 pm

    Simply beautiful…as so many of your stories are…! Bless Mamas..you, too.

    Reply
  23. Sheila - November 6, 2018 2:36 am

    I believe you ARE a particularly good person. You are an exceptional writer. I believe God answers prayers. I believe God performs miracles. Thank you for sharing about yours. God bless you and your sweet momma

    Reply
  24. Josey Humbert-Sabo - November 6, 2018 3:07 am

    I love you Sean.

    Reply
  25. Sandi in FL. - November 6, 2018 5:16 am

    You are so very blessed and fortunate to still have your dear mother, Sean. Spend as much time with her as possible.

    Reply
  26. claireaporter - November 6, 2018 1:08 pm

    Love the way you can relay words that grip me. I pray your mother is better.

    Reply
  27. Ina. Carlyle - November 6, 2018 2:47 pm

    Tears. We need to love and care for the real mothers of the world

    Reply
  28. Patricia Gibson - November 6, 2018 10:56 pm

    He has done a lot for me too, Sean!

    Reply
  29. Suzanne Hill - November 6, 2018 11:24 pm

    Help. I accidentally deleted Sean’s November 6th article. Would someone send it to me, please? I read him each day. Good work, Sean! Thank U! suzannehill0928@gmail.com

    Reply
  30. Brenda McLaine - November 8, 2018 12:39 am

    Another beautiful story. Praise for answered prayer.

    Reply
  31. Gaynell Lumsden - November 18, 2018 12:04 am

    I just love you Sean. You’re a good man. AND you have a rare gift from the Good Lord – to write, to feel, to live ( I mean –to REALLY live) etc., etc.

    Reply

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