54: From Attitude to Gratitude

54: From Attitude to Gratitude

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Miracles

From Attitude to Gratitude

Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.

~Barbara Kingsolver

The day my mother saved me from being killed, or at the very least, from severe injury, I was awakened from a peaceful sleep by the incessant ringing of the phone. I glanced at the clock. It was not yet eight. Who had the audacity to call so early? The phone display said “Unknown Name, Unknown Number.”

To be roused abruptly and by a call I did not invite or want always makes me cranky. Then on my nightstand I noticed Larry’s note. “Forgot. Have early tee time. Later. Love you, L.”

Oh, great! It was Saturday morning and I had planned on a leisurely breakfast with my husband. “But I guess his precious golf was more important,” I mused grumpily.

Breakfast? In the kitchen I found his other note: “We need milk. Ours is sour.” I don’t ask for much in the morning except for my cup of coffee with two sugars and milk—fresh milk.

Grabbing five dollars, I grudgingly threw on my yoga pants and top. There was no need for underwear, I decided. After all, I was only going two blocks away. I drove to the 7-Eleven. I had almost reached the store when a policeman stopped me.

I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and had left my driver’s license on the dresser. His professional disinterest added to my foul mood and it was evident he didn’t like my attitude either. He gave me a ticket.

At home, I took my coffee, a blanket for my legs and my latest novel out to the back patio.

It had rained overnight. But now it was a perfect spring day. The flowers on the Bradford pear tree created a stunning canopy of snowy white.

The yard was alive with energetic squirrels and the birds provided a sweet symphony of background music. The pleasing sight caused me to question why I was in such bad humor when I was, in fact, so fortunate.

I had good health, a loving husband, a family and friends. Oh, sure, it would have been nice to be ten years younger and have a million dollars, but all things considered, I led a charmed life.

I thought of the officer who had ticketed me. “At least he didn’t do a strip search,” I spoke out loud, laughing as usual, at my own joke.

I stretched out leisurely on the wooden bench, surrounded by the beauty of nature. My thoughts turned to the bench on which I reclined—my bench. Larry had sanded and stained it a red brick color to match our concrete patio floor.

I smiled as I recalled when we had first discussed marriage. He had good-naturedly warned me that he was not a “honey-do” kind of guy, but his cooperation and eagerness to help over time belied those words.

I must have dozed off. The shrill ringing woke me. Jumping up with a start, I heard my mother shout, “Answer the phone.”

I ignored her, until her voice penetrated my ears again, this time with more urgency.

“Eva! Answer it!”

“Can’t you pick it up, Mother?” I called out, but she didn’t reply.

The phone was on the window counter across the yard. Untangling myself from the blanket, I rushed towards it. A startled little squirrel had been caught up in the blanket and had scampered away in fright.

The phone’s display showed those annoying words, “Unknown Name, Unknown Number.” My pet peeve struck again.

I’ll never know what prompted me to pick up the receiver instead of pressing the “off” key.

The caller seemed hesitant, wanting to talk despite having dialed the wrong number. For some reason it didn’t frustrate me like it normally would have. Very politely, I took the time to explain that there was no one in our home by that name. As I was about to hang up there was a deafening thud behind me.

The beautiful Bradford pear tree had uprooted and its enormous trunk had crashed onto the bench where my head had been resting only a minute before. I gazed with horror at the demolished bench, gasping as I realized what had almost happened.

When I had recovered from the shock, I reflected on the miracle that my mother’s voice could rouse me from such a deep sleep, sparing me from being injured—or worse—from possible death. What was even more astounding is that it happened on the one-year anniversary of her death!

We later learned that Bradford pears, although exquisite in appearance, are trees that are notorious for uprooting and breaking.

My early morning funk was replaced that day with profound gratitude — gratitude for something even as simple as a wrong number.

~Eva Carter

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