My daughter wanted nothing to do with me. So I asked for help from heaven.
I sat at the kitchen table to read the paper, a quiet moment in a stressful morning. A familiar face smiled up at me from the obituary page—Eleanor, a grandmother figure I’d befriended in church. Everyone knew her as a deep and caring person, someone who would listen to your problems, pray for you, and know exactly the right thing to say to put you at ease. If only I could talk to Eleanor now. I felt like a terrible mother and I needed a friendly word.
My only son, Michael, and my two other girls didn’t give me any problems. But lately, my 17-year-old, Elizabeth, had distanced herself from me. Something was bothering her, and I didn’t know what. She normally opened up to me readily whenever she had a problem. Not this time. As soon as she left for ballet class, I’d taken the desperate step of calling her friend’s mother for some advice. “Typical teenage drama,” she assured me. I hoped she was right.
Later Elizabeth called me, hysterical. “I’m not coming home!” she sobbed into the phone. “Why did you call Courtney’s mom to check on me? Don’t you trust me?” Then she hung up.
A knot tightened in my stomach. Tears streamed down my face. I hurried to my bedroom and shut the door. “Lord help her,” I prayed. Then I pictured my friend Eleanor in Heaven. “Oh, Eleanor. Where did I go wrong with raising her?” Useless, of course. Eleanor couldn’t answer me.
I prayed in my room a while, then splashed some cold water on my face and went to the kitchen. An hour later Michael came in the door. At least my son was untroubled. He’d been volunteering all morning at the senior center and had stopped home for lunch.
“How was it at the senior center?” I asked, glad for the distraction.
“Good,” he said. “Before I forget, a little old lady sitting at one of the tables said something. She told me, “’Eleanor said, tell your mom she’s doing a great job raising you kids.’”
“Eleanor?” I said, suddenly feeling lighter. Michael didn’t know why I looked so uplifted. He hadn’t heard me earlier. But I knew who did.
That evening, Elizabeth did come home. She still had her guard up, but she was willing to talk. And I was happy to follow my friend Eleanor’s example—listen, pray, and say just the right thing to put her at ease.