Wheelchair Bound for Heaven
By Jane Thornton –
I just got off the phone with my mother who told me she’s in a wheelchair. This shocking news went in one ear and bounced around in my brain for a few minutes before it registered, and I could stutter, “Why?”
Many people would not find the news of a woman pushing seventy-three in a wheelchair even mildly surprising. But this is my mom, who bikes (well, trikes since Johnny got her a three-wheeler) six miles several times a week and regularly shreds the pasture with the tractor like the best field hand.
She had hopped out of the car to shut the garage door, tripped over her purse strap, and landed on her hip, probably fracturing it. Notice the word probably. Although putting any weight on her right foot was excruciating, sitting was quite bearable. So she kept her date at the symphony. And at the football game this afternoon.
Mom knew her doctor had a birthday party and didn’t want to bother her on the weekend. She’d wait until Monday. Like most grandmothers who want to stay in touch with their grandchildren, she has become techno savvy enough to text, so she did text the doctor to set up the x-ray.
Numerous self-deprecating chuckles sprinkled Mom’s telling of these events. Even as I approach fifty, I’m learning lessons from my mother (although I still feel pretty sure I would take the opportunity offered by a broken hip to retreat for a bout of guilt-free reading).
In just this one incident, she displayed thoughtfulness, strength, vigor, and an ability to laugh at herself.
Twenty years ago, she took a scary battle with breast cancer and turned it into a ministry. Now she sends cards to literally hundreds of people, encouraging them as they fight the disease or suffer through other struggles. Mom also shares her journey through a booklet, Whiner’s Guide to Chemotherapy, which includes some humorous (of course) tips and her prayer journal, another lesson for me in strength, openness and encouragement.
When I was growing up we had company almost every Sunday because she’d invite whoever visited at church. She made dining with strangers comfortable—this is the same woman who claims to have been a shy child.
Lest she read this and be embarrassed by my canonizing her, another of Mom’s charms is her honesty about her failings. Many of my lessons about marriage and parenting have come through her relating her own trials and errors.
Most important, Mom imparted her confidence in God’s love. She knew she was His precious child, and she passed that security to her children. Although I didn’t discover this favorite verse until I was an adult, its message only affirmed her teachings. No shock or surprise:
“The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV).
My mom sang over me. My husband and I rocked and sang over our children. I love the image of Father God singing over each of us. Sometimes we forget it or take His love for granted, but pause with the entire world this Christmas and marvel at the extreme measure God took to prove His love for us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).