An unlikely encounter on All Hallow's Eve answered a worried woman's prayers.
"Hurry, Mommy, let's go trick-or-treating!" My daughter waited by the door in her pink princess costume while I paced the living room. Usually I liked taking her out on Halloween, but this year, I was a wreck. I was worried sick about my mother, who was in China on a vacation.
Some vacation! I got a call that afternoon that she had slipped and fallen on the marble floor of her hotel and broken her hip. She was taken to a Beijing hospital. Mom was nervous because she couldn't understand any of the doctors. If only I could do something to help her!
"Mom-my..." I knew I couldn't let my worries ruin my daughter's fun. There's nothing I can do for Mom except pace and pray, I thought. We left the house and headed down the block.
I was so distracted, I barely took note of all the costumed kids around me. The sooner my daughter filled her bag with goodies, the sooner I could get back to my pacing.
A blinking red light approached through the darkness. It was a pumpkin-shaped pin attached to the coat of a man whose son I'd once given piano lessons to. "Hello there," I said, greeting him and the little cowboy at his side.
"Hello," the father answered. "Having fun?"
"I'm trying," I said.
"Why, what's wrong?" he asked.
I told him the whole story. My mother, in China, breaking her hip. Not understanding any of the doctors. "And I'm too far away to do anything!" I said.
He raised his eyebrows. "Beijing, you said?" he asked. I nodded.
He pursed his lips then smiled. "Believe it or not, my sister is a doctor at an English-speaking hospital there. If you want, I'll make a call right away and we'll try and get your mom transferred."
A few days later I sat on the living room floor with my daughter as she finished the last of the candy. "Mommy, how far away is China?" she asked.
"Not as far as I thought," I said.