From Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul

A Promise on Mother’s Day

Sue and Kenny Burton had tried for more than two years to have a baby, and things weren’t going well. Month after month, despite many medical tests, they continued to be disappointed. People in their tiny, close-knit town of Frankfort, Kansas, knew about the Burtons’ dream and were praying for them.

At that time, Sue sang contemporary Christian songs in a sextet formed by women from Frankfort’s United Methodist Church. The group, ironically named Special Delivery, performed regularly at mother-daughter banquets, Elk and Moose club meetings, and other functions. “Usually during a program we each share a little personal history with the audience,” Sue explains. “Since we range from teenage to grandmother status, people can relate to all of us.”

The other singers, knowing Sue’s longing for a baby, encouraged her to share that with audiences too, and she did. The response was tremendously supportive. After the Christmas concerts, many people came up to assure Sue that they would add their prayers to those of her neighbors. In March, a woman from South Dakota even predicted that a year from then, Sue would have a baby daughter. Although Sue and Kenny seemed no closer to decorating a nursery, it helped to know so many people cared.

On Mother’s Day weekend, Sue drove her mother to Kansas City to spend some time with Sue’s sister, Shelley, who attended college there. The three visited shopping malls all day Saturday, and Sue conscientiously pressed the automatic door lock every time they parked and got out of her car. “We joked about being overly cautious in the big city, but there was no point in being careless,” Sue says.

Sunday morning, the trio awakened to a steady rain. They lounged around in Shelley’s apartment and had an early lunch. The downpour continued, so eventually the three decided to go out, anyway. Dodging raindrops, they splashed across the parking lot to Sue’s car. “Hurry up! I’m getting soaked!” Shelley laughed as Sue unlocked the driver’s door, then pressed the switch to open the other doors.

Shelley and Sue scrambled into the front seat, while their mother got in back. “Look at this!” she exclaimed as her daughters turned around. On the back seat was a pink baby bootie.

“Where did that come from?” Sue asked. “It wasn’t there yesterday, was it, Mom?”

“No,” her mother said. “I was in and out of here all day, and I never saw it.”

“Could it have been stuck down in the seat, maybe left by one of your friends in Frankfort?” Shelley wondered.

Sue shook her head. “I doubt it. My friends’ children are all older. I don’t think a baby has ever been in this car.”

The women pondered over that awhile.

“Someone must have found it lying near the car just now and tossed it in, thinking it was ours,” Shelley tried again.

“But,” Sue pointed out, “the car was never open—you know I’ve locked the doors whenever we got out. And why would anyone think a bootie belonged to us? No one here knows us.”

“Look how muddy and wet it is outside,” Sue’s mother added. “But this bootie is clean and dry.”

The women fell silent again, turning over possible explanations in their minds. But no solution emerged. The bootie’s position looked deliberate, as if someone had wanted to be sure it was seen.

“What if...?”Sue couldn’t finish her sentence. But the others knew what she was thinking. Was the bootie a message from heaven, a sign that all those prayers ascending from the Kansas plains were about to be answered?

Sue hardly dared to hope. She took the bootie home, put it in her Bible, and waited. Waited until she realized she was indeed pregnant, had been pregnant on that Mother’s Day morning, and would, just as the lady from South Dakota predicted, be a mother—of a daughter— very soon. “When people asked how I could be so sure of a girl, I would simply show them the bootie,” Sue says. “Would God send pink for any other reason?”

Today, five years later, the bootie hangs over Paige Elizabeth Burton’s bed as a constant reminder that God answers prayers. In fact, he answers in abundance, for Paige now has a little sister. “I have no doubt that an angel left the bootie there as a sign for me,” Sue says.

For Sue, every day is Mother’s Day.

Joan Wester Anderson

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