"Her son-in-law overdosed. Not good. That's why she's had to cut back on her hours," Sarah explained to Priscilla and me as we scanned the menu.
Overdosed over the holidays! Another grandma-waitress dealing with the next generation's pain. Overdose equals three children left without a father. A wife left without a husband. A grandmother mothering all the more her grandchildren.
"It's working out better for her schedule. She was here at the restaurant too many hours. She was working herself nearly to death. It's so sad that a tragedy has forced her to slow down a bit."
"We'll certainly be praying for Marie. Tell her when she comes in that Priscilla and I are holding her up in prayer," I asked Sarah.
Then the next morning I walked into one of Maine's Lakes Region stores. "Where's Sam?" I asked a clerk.
"He's out. Won't be back for several days. His wife is having major surgery this morning. Doesn't look good as far I can tell. We gotta pray for the two of them. They're really swell folk."
Sam. Whew! He'd had a lot of troubles over the winter. And now this. Sandy would end up having surgery and then chemo.
I peered into my coffee cup, wondering how this older couple would fend now that this life-threatening operation was thrust upon them. Thank God, they were both strong Christians, faithful to the work of the Lord.
"We're all praying for them. We do have prayer," the gal behind the counter called out to me while she readied coffee urns for another day.
Prayer. Prayer for grandma and her daughter and the grandkids. Prayer for Sam and his wife. Prayer circles were hedging us in, all around us.
After downing the hot brew to start my morning, I wandered over to another part of the store, coming upon Laura checking out a few customers.
"Yes, I know about Sam's wife," Laura looked up over her glasses. "I feel so sorry for them. They thought that her condition was improving after her last surgery; but the whole thing flared up again -- and now she's right back in the operating room."
"We've got prayer," I reminded my friend.
"Yes we do. And we are all remembering that, especially today."
Priscilla and I had just come back from Maine Medical Center the evening before where we'd visited Esther. She had had shoulder surgery. It was after our mid-week church prayer gathering that we two walked into her room.
"How are you doing? You've had a busy day -- pre-op this morning, surgery this afternoon and now the day is nearly over," I greeted our parishioner.
"I am doing so well. My daughter cannot get over it. She said that when she drove here to check on me after surgery, she was quite apprehensive after the other operations I've had. But this time I am so thankful for the way I've come through this. I even enjoyed my evening meal!"
It was quite dark outside, cars viewed from hospital windows wandered about our city streets, stop lights flipped red to green. Thankfully, Esther was comfortable, rereading get well cards from friends. And so it was time -- for prayer.
Prayer -- talking to God at the drop of a bending heart. And so the prayer circle circles 'round and 'round and 'round. Keep it circling -- for friends, strangers, and your own attentive soul.
J. Grant Swank Jr.