35: A Child’s Faith

35: A Child’s Faith

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

A Child’s Faith

Young people need something stable to hang on to—a culture connection, a sense of their own past, a hope for their own future. Most of all, they need what grandparents can give them.

~Jay Kesler

I felt I wasn’t in God’s good graces during my college years, so I hung my head when Granny asked me to pray. She began, “Thank You, Lord, for blessing us with this food. We shore don’t take it for granted, ’cause we been hungry before and know how that feels…” Then Granny starting humming ever so softly, “All my trials, Lord, soon be over…”

“Don’t do that,” I said.

“Oh, sweetheart, don’t be silly.” Granny put her hand on my cheek. “You know the Lord’s gotta take me home before long. Besides, I done lived and loved enough for two lifetimes already.”

The Bible talks about being content in whatever state we’re in, but Granny walked the walk. This sweet woman, who’d picked cotton from age five and wore dresses made from flour sacks, created quilts for all her descendants with soft, colorful scraps she’d saved for years. My sixty-year-old quilt is thin and tattered now, but it took me from crib to college, then tenderly blanketed my children with the kind of warmth that only comes from multigenerational love.

As a child, I got to sleep in Granny’s bed when we all slept over. I felt like “the chosen one.” When I asked why I received the honor, she said, “The littlest grandchild ought to, so it can keep warm.” I wanted her to say, “Because you’re my favorite.” But I knew that honor belonged to my brother George. And I couldn’t blame her. It didn’t matter that George was her favorite—what mattered was that she had always been mine.

When I was fourteen years old, doctors diagnosed Granny with terminal cancer and gave her six months to live. Exploratory surgery exposed malignancy “from hell to breakfast,” the term I overheard in 1967. They sewed her up and sent her home to die, but no one ever told Granny she had The Big C.

I recall, like it was only moments ago, falling across my bed and crying all afternoon and into the night. Not even my mother could console me. I remember dropping to my knees and asking God to spare Granny and give me her pain.

The six months passed—and everyone expected Granny to die. Everyone except me. I’d been blessed with the unwavering faith of a child. What’s more, Granny never even needed an aspirin for pain. There’s not a doubt in my mind that God answered my prayer with an enthusiastic, “Okay, kiddo! You got it!” Eight years later Granny was still my living, loving, laughing heroine, enjoying life to the fullest.

In a hotel room in Spartanburg, South Carolina, with my arms folded beneath my head, I stared into the darkness. Alone, sober, and planning the route I must travel the next day, I saw an arm reach into the shadows and pull a white sheet over Granny’s head. I lunged toward the vision, but it vanished as quickly as it had appeared. Nothing else.

My heart pounded. I felt like a bowling ball had hit my chest and knocked the breath out of me. I tossed and turned all night as I contemplated the vision’s meaning. Common sense told me I’d imagined the whole thing—but this event was not common, nor did it make sense.

To this day, I don’t know if God gave me a sign of Granny’s imminent death, or if Granny’s spirit somehow connected with mine in her moment of crisis. Whatever miraculous event happened that night in the hotel room, though, occurred at the exact time Granny was rushed to the hospital in Savannah.

The inexplicable premonition allowed me time to make the 250-mile trek to say goodbye. The answer to my prayer and the vision changed my life forever. My child’s faith grew strong enough to withstand a lifetime of trials, not the least of which was my own battle with cancer thirteen years ago when God answered the second part of my prayer—giving me Granny’s pain.

~Janet Sheppard Kelleher

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