Emma stepped out her back door and hoisted the sack of trash into the garbage bin. Sometimes she felt so alone. One day blended into the next with no one to care about her. She never went anywhere. Had even stopped going to church. What was the use? No one missed her or cared now that Steven was gone. Their only son lived over a thousand miles away and was busy with his own life. His own family. He and Cheryl had been badgering her to move closer, but they didn’t mean it. Not really.
“Emma! How are you this morning?” Mary, the neighbor across the fence, called out, and Emma turned quickly toward her voice.
Crack! Sharp pain followed the sound through her hip, and she crumpled to the cement patio. Her head smacked the ground dazing her. More pain than she’d ever experienced before tore through her leg and up her side. “Oh-h-h.” She could do nothing but lie and moan, the ache fogging her brain.
Voices blended around her then a gentle touch on her shoulder penetrated the wall of pain. “Emma, I’m so sorry. I must have startled you.”
“My leg.” Why couldn’t she move? The throbbing was so great.
“Lie still.” Her neighbor slipped a soft pillow under her head. “The ambulance will be here soon.”
The faint wail of a siren grew in intensity. Doors slammed. Voices and gentle hands assured her that help had arrived. Time and reality lost meaning as Emma was transferred to the ambulance and taken to the hospital.
Hours or maybe days later she became aware of the hospital room—alone again.
“Daddy!” A small voice whispered. “Grandma’s awake.”
“Mom, how’re you feeling?” Her son Dave appeared before her. He enclosed her hand in both of his. “I thought you were going to sleep away the day.”
“My hip. It’s broken.” Emma reached down and felt a thick bandage.
Dave smiled. “I know, Mom, but you’re going to be all right. The doctor says you have osteoporosis and need to be careful when you walk, especially on steps. No more sudden swinging around. Maybe you should give up square dancing.”
“Oh, you!” She grinned at his joke then stared. “What are you doing here?”
“I came to see about you.” His brows drew together. “What’d you think I would do, send flowers? I came to talk you into going home with me.”
“And me too.” Five-year-old Joanie peeked around her dad. Her sweet smile brought warmth to Emma’s heart.
She pretended confusion. “Have we met, young lady? I remember I had a granddaughter, but she wasn’t nearly as grown-up as you.”
Joanie giggled. “It’s me, Grandma. Joanie. I got bigger.”
“That’s why we want you to come live with us, Mom.” Dave leaned forward. “Please. We never get to see you.”
“Have you convinced her yet?” Cheryl, Dave’s wife, stepped into the room with a cheerful grin.
Emma shrank from Dave’s offer. “You don’t want an old woman interfering in your life. I’d be in your way.”
“You won’t be in our way.” Cheryl stood by the side of the bed. “You’ll be living in your own apartment. Didn’t you tell her, Dave? We really want you where we can take care of each other. I can’t begin to make cookies like you can.”
As Dave described the studio apartment he’d built in their basement for her even before she fell, Emma opened her heart to the possibilities.
The next day, when Mary poked her head in the room for a visit, Emma’s joy bubbled over. “I’m going to move. Dave and Cheryl have fixed up a place for me where I won’t have to worry about steps when I go outside or to the garage. But I’ll be right there with them where I can get acquainted with my two granddaughters. I can’t wait to see Dorie. She couldn’t come because of school, but Dave’s coming to move me as soon as I’m out of here.”
“That’s good news, Emma.” Mary’s smile covered her face. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you look this happy.”
Emma ducked her head. “I’ve been an old grouch, haven’t I?”
“Of course, not.” Mary shook her head. “I didn’t mean—”
“No, I have. I thought everyone, including God had forgotten me. Since Steven passed on, I’ve felt so alone and took it out on everyone. I had to fall and break my hip to see God’s hand on my life. This isn’t the first time Dave and Cheryl have asked me to move closer to them, but I refused. So set in my ways, I couldn’t see what we all needed. God had to knock me down so I could get up.”
Mary covered her smiling lips with her hand and nodded.
Emma picked up a Bible from the table beside her bed and flipped it open. “I was reading in the Psalms this morning and found this. It’s in the thirty-seventh chapter, verses twenty-three and twenty-four. It says ‘The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in His way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand.’”
She closed the Bible and laid it aside before looking again at Mary. “I’m seventy years old, but I will not be utterly cast down. I have something to live for now and won’t be sitting home alone anymore. The Lord cares for me, and He isn’t the only one. I know that now.”
Mary squeezed Emma’s hand. “That just goes to show we should never allow ourselves to reach rock bottom before looking up to see the One who loves us. He’s always waiting for us to accept His love and His direction for our lives.”
“Amen.” Emma returned her friend’s squeeze.