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Buddo’s Prayers

Hearing my grandmother pray was as normal for me growing up as watching Cal Ripken play shortstop.  Most often, her prayer was more of an exclamation acknowledging God’s goodness, “Thank You, Lord.”  Or, “Oh, thank You, Lord.”  She was thankful in good times, and in painful times—such as, when I was around.

But, it was her prayers in her final months that I will remember most.  Unable to walk, tied to an oxygen tank, rarely able to escape the four walls of her room, her prayers were as intense as before.  “Lord, forgive me.”  (I’d think, “Buddo, what kinds of sins are you committing in this hospital room?”)  Yet, even in the last months, she was aware of the weakness of her heart, and prayed with David, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.  Renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Then, she prayed, “Lord, help me to serve You fully today.” Even when imprisoned by her own body, she prayed with St. Francis, “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.” The moment I heard that prayer, I smiled, thinking, “Good for you, Buddo!  You know your life matters to God—even to the last breath.”

Only after she passed away was I able to appreciate the power of those prayers. How often do you see people get “old and cranky”? After the funeral, we visited the nurses who cared for my grandmother the last six months of her life.  More than one spoke of her unusually gracious spirit.  One wrote to me that Buddo was the first patient she always visited when on duty, because she so enjoyed being with her.  I think my grandmother aged so graciously because she continually asked God to purify her heart.

Two days after the funeral, I was stopped on the street by a man whose wife served my grandparents as a Hospice volunteer.  (He recognized me because they had spent over an hour at the viewing and had attended the funeral.)  With the aggressiveness of a used car salesman, this normally reserved man stopped my progress.  He wanted me to know how much they had grown to love my grandparents.  “My wife says that in all her time with Hospice, she’s never served a nicer family.”  My grandmother’s prayers were answered.  Even in her final months, her Christ-like attitude and winsome spirit made her an instrument of God’s peace.

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