Just yesterday, it seemed, I was a new mother, but here I was expecting my first grandchild. I was lucky my daughter, Shayne, and her husband, Shawn, lived close by. I didn’t want to miss a second of watching their child grow up. That got me to thinking seriously about retiring from my job as an art teacher. I was at an age when retirement was an option, and I’d toyed with the idea before. At the dinner table one night, I raised the issue with my husband.
“We can afford to live on one salary,” I said to Buz, “but Shayne and Shawn need both their jobs to support their young family, now more than ever.” What a help it would be if I watched the baby while they worked. Plus, it would give me a chance to be really close to my first grandchild. That’s what I wanted more than anything else.
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“Sounds like you’ve already made up your mind,” Buz said.
Buz was right. It was what I wanted now. Trouble was, I didn’t know if I’d regret my decision later on. And then where would I be? In bed that night, I asked God to give me a sign. Just so I know retirement’s right for me, I prayed.
I knew if I put my trust in God, he would help me. I’d learned that at an early age. My mother drilled it into my head by telling me a fanciful story: A little angel heard a lady praying for a baby with curly red hair. The angel knew this baby was going to have brown hair, straight as a poker. However, the angel had curly red hair, and that gave her an idea. “Please, God,” she prayed, “let me trade my hair for the baby’s.”
“That mother will love her baby no matter what color hair she has,” came God’s reply. But the little angel was very persistent. Every day she prayed and asked God to answer her request. Finally the baby was born, with a shiny red curl right in the middle of her forehead. “God hears my every prayer!” the mother exclaimed. The little angel looked down from heaven with straight brown hair, and smiled.
“That story says everything I need to know about prayer,” Mom used to say. “If you’re patient and persistent, like the angel, God won’t let you down. If you ever doubt that, just think of that redheaded baby.”
I held the image of the little angel in my mind until I drifted off to sleep. Morning, noon and night of every day I prayed for my sign. Did God hear me?
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I was still waffling the night Shawn called to say the baby was on the way. Buz and I hurried to the hospital. Buz thumbed through magazines on the waiting room coffee table. I was too anxious to do anything but pray. God, watch over Shayne and my new grand-baby, and remember, I’m still asking for my sign.
The first rays of morning light were peeking through the window when Shawn burst in with the news. “It’s a girl!”
We all tiptoed into Shayne’s room. She looked beautiful, cradling her newborn. “Congratulations, honey,” I said, nearly bursting with pride. Everything I’d worried over, my doubts and second thoughts and what-ifs, all dissolved in this perfect moment. I knew with complete clarity what I wanted to do. I wanted to have a hand in raising this baby, and I knew that I would never regret my decision to retire. Maybe the school would let me work with the new teacher on a casual basis. Suddenly everything didn’t seem so black and white. I could think creatively about my new life. After all, I was an art teacher! Everything would fall into place. I was sure of it. Guess I didn’t need that sign I’d prayed so hard for, after all. All I needed was one look at this baby named Lily.