Indian Life Newspaper -

ANOTHER CHANCE

 

Last updated 1/19/2013 at 1:11pm

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Looking into the carefully tended, lush, green lawn of the McKays’ backyard. Small, flowered plants in heavy clusters bordered my neighbor’s fence. Farther out, circular coronets of dahlias and zinnias bloomed in rich gold and reds.

“Ouch!”

My hand smarted from the stinging hot water as I gazed out the kitchen window. Quickly, I mixed cold water over the amber glass and rinsed the suds away.

“Not paying attention to washing dishes,” I chided.

Too busy looking into the carefully tended, lush, green lawn of the McKays’ backyard. Small, flowered plants in heavy clusters bordered my neighbor’s fence. Farther out, circular coronets of dahlias and zinnias bloomed in rich gold and reds. Between these festive rings of color, a lemon tree lifted its heavy-branched fullness of yellow fruit, delicately scenting the afternoon breeze.

Often in warm weather, I expected to see Susan and Mike, a devoted couple in their late sixties, lounging in lawn chairs. Side by side with armrests touching, they often sunned themselves and sipped fresh lemonade as they enjoyed retirement years together. Mike had spent many years driving a truck for a charity, and Susan had worked in the organization’s local office in a nearby city.

I was usually in the kitchen about the time they took in the afternoon sun. It was pleasant for me to look out the window on my gray-haired friends sitting in their garden.

At least that’s how it was until two weeks ago. Now both their lawn chairs were covered with clear plastic.

I shook my head sadly, remembering. Susan had been almost overcome with fear and worry by the time we’d arrived at the emergency hospital. Mike had been in an accident.

That’s all we’d known. Later, they told us he’d stopped at the intersection, but the teenager’s SUV had kept on coming. With failing brakes, he’d crashed into the driver’s side of Mike’s Honda.

As I drove us to the hospital, before we entered the hospital sanctuary for prayer, I mentioned to Susan how much I enjoyed watching her and Mike together, smiling as I looked out my kitchen window to see her spading around pretty flowers and Mike weeding their green lawn.

“I hope it will be the same for Joe and me when we grow older. But there is so much hustle and bustle in our lives and with the demands of the children these days, it seems we never have enough time for one another,” I confessed with a sigh.

“Venus, our life was busy once too,” Susan said. “But when the children grew up it felt strange to be left alone. It was just Mike and me after so many years. That’s when we joined a Native gathering in our neighborhood. Gradually a wonderful new companionship grew between us.”

At the hospital, we entered the prayer sanctuary while we anxiously awaited word on Mike’s condition. When we were allowed to enter his room, Susan sat close to his bed, trying to sip the hot tea I had brought her from the nurse’s station area.

As she hovered over Mike’s bed, she took the hot liquid and sipped it, but most of the time she seemed to be sitting broken and crushed beside him. “Venus, whenever he has a pain, I hurt too,” she murmured. “It’s always been that way between us. But I know Creator God will hear our prayers. He’ll heal Mike.”

When Mike finally regained consciousness, I heard him whisper: “I want to stay here awhile longer with you, Susie, dear. I don’t think the good Lord wants me to come home yet.”

Misty eyed, I watched Susan lean over the white sheet and gently kiss Mike. She reached for his rough hand and held it tenderly against her wrinkled cheek.

The memory lingered now as I finished scrubbing the burners on my stove. “Well, you’re clean again,” I said.

As I swept the kitchen floor I remembered something else Susan had said to me during that long night in the hospital.

“If Mike lives, if we’re given more time together,” she pressed her hands together tightly, “we’re going to get all we can from each moment,” she said resolutely, “and treasure the rest of our lives together as a precious gift from God.”

As I stored the broom in the hall closet, it suddenly dawned on me. I’ve been far too wrapped up in the routine of chores and family responsibilities. It had taken Susan’s and Mike’s misfortune for me to recognize it.

‘I am a lucky girl! I couldn’t get to the phone fast enough.

“Good afternoon. Joe’s Lube and Oil.”

“Hi, dear,” I said. “I love you.”

“You do, huh?” Joe’s deep voice teased. “And just who am I talking to?”

“A girl who’s going to make you a delicious beef stew for dinner tonight and bannock.” It had been a month since I’d made any bannock for that sweet guy of mine.

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My hand smarted from the stinging hot water as I gazed out the kitchen window. Quickly, I mixed cold water over the amber glass and rinsed the suds away. “Not paying attention to washing dishes,” I chided.

“I’ll be right home!” he shouted.

“Bye, dear,” I whispered, placing the receiver back, thinking, how wonderful—the way we still felt about each other.

“Dear God, thank You for helping me see my mistake, and giving me another chance,” I whispered. “I’m going to remember not to take my marriage so much for granted. And I’ll be a better neighbor, too. I’ll make an extra batch of bannock for Susan and Mike to enjoy during their visit together at the hospital tonight.”

Several weeks have passed and Mike is home again. Today, he and Susan are sitting outside once more. He’s bandaged up a bit, but there they are, lounging in front of the lemon tree, side by side.

And wouldn’t you know it? My hands are in the dishwater again. But I haven’t scalded myself once. And bannock is baking in the oven!

 
 

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