Caregiver Gold

There is gold in these Caregiver Hills. Shiny flecks flash in sudden smiles. Nuggets nestle in lost memories found. And sometimes, caregivers are gold-rushed straight into the mines. At our house, that happens every Tuesday night when Mom volunteers answering a national prayer hotline for the Methodists. “Good evening,” she answers to each ring, “this is the Upper Room Prayer Line, how may I help you?”
Thus a golden miracle begins.
All the other hours of the week, Mom’s aged arteries keep her from remembering big words, long sentences and trains of thought – but all that changes when she becomes the person I call the Prayer Lady.
“God loves you,” she declares before zooming in on the particular issue in the endless summons for prayer. “If your next-door neighbor is a heathen, God put him there for a reason, maybe just so he could meet you.” I listen to the silence between pauses in Mom’s side of the conversations down the hall in her den where she sits in her big overstuffed recliner with her telephone firmly planted in her lap.
“Well, a heathen certainly might do that, but remember the Bible tells us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, even if they do leave trash all over their yard.”

Another ring, another answer, another response ...“You are not ugly. God thinks you are beautiful and I do, too. If you want to lose weight to be healthier, that’s fine, but God doesn’t use scales from Wal-Mart. His hands weigh the love in our hearts.”
Ring …
“Then let’s pray together. ‘Dear Lord, please let this wonderful woman’s social security check be in her mailbox tomorrow afternoon, or Thursday at the very latest.’ ”
Ring …
“Young man, I will pray for you but you need to be talking to Jesus instead of me.”

Slam. I jump.
“Mom, what’s the matter?”

"Oh, the sex man, again. I should have told him to find a hobby like bowling.”
When her two hours as Prayer Lady come to an end, Mom not only remembers her repeat callers week to week, but also can rap off details of dozens of prayer requests as crisply as a nail gun.
How her otherwise time-tarnished brainpower runs as smooth as 24-carat gold when she’s the Prayer Lady is a mystery to her doctors and to me. What I do know as her caregiver is never to stop panning for golden moments, because nothing shines brighter than Mom’s eyes when she helps deliver a stranger’s prayer straight to the sparkling streets of Heaven.
And for that, I say, Amen.