ANSWERED PRAYERS (PART 4)
Barb picked up the story. “For the next two years, these wonderful folks ministered to Kate, me, and most especially her dad.”
Barb reached over to give my arm a squeeze. I could feel my eyes filling with tears as Barb explained. “They renewed our faith and our strength. And I watched Walt fall back in love with our daughter, me, and our God.”
I took Barb’s hand. “Along with Barb’s prolific prayers and lavish love, Kate began to respond in remarkable ways. And then one day the little girl who was supposed to never talk said ‘Mama.’ And her second word was ‘Da.’ I’ve gotta tell ya, it was the sweetest sound I’d ever heard.”
Becky smiled sweetly. “I bet it was, Walt.”
“And that’s not all. One afternoon, while I was seeing patients at the family medicine clinic, my nurse came up to me and said, ‘Dr. Larimore, you need to go home—now!’ I asked what she was talking about. She told me, ‘Barb just called. There’s no emergency, and she and Kate are fine. But she needs you to come home now.’ Well, of course, I protested. I still had a couple of patients to see. But another doctor agreed to see my patients. My nurse looked me in the eye and simply said, ‘Trust me, Dr. Larimore. Go home. Now!’ The short drive home seemed an eternity. I parked in the driveway and rushed into the house. When I reached the den, I cried out for Barb. I could hear her in the living room. She sounded so calm. I rushed through the den and dining room and found Kate and Barb laughing as they sat on the floor. ‘Why’d you call me?’ I asked.”
Becky leaned forward as Barb continued. “I remember smiling at him. I told him to sit down so I could show him an answered prayer.”
“So what happened?” asked Becky gleefully.
“It was such an incredible moment,” I explained. “First Kate grinned from ear to ear. Then Barb reached over and took her hands. Kate struggled to stand, and with Barb’s help she gained her balance. Barb let her lean back against the sofa and moved a few feet away. Then Barb said, ‘Come on, Kate. Let’s show Daddy!’”
“Did she?” asked Ken.
“I wish you could have seen it, Ken. Kate smiled and laughed. Then she slowly leaned forward and took a couple of very wobbly steps before she lunged into Barb’s waiting arms. It was the first day she had ever taken a step. I couldn’t believe it! I was seeing my little girl walk! Sure, her steps were wobbly and weak, but they were steps!”
“Kate was laughing hysterically,” Barb added.
“And Barb was cheering like crazy.” Then I paused a moment. “And I bowed my head into my hands and wept like a baby. My prayers had been answered. My baby had now talked and walked. She was never supposed to do either.”
Becky’s eyes filled with tears. “What a wonderful story,” she whispered.
“It gets even better. After I finished my residency, Barb and I determined we needed to spend several months of time with thirty- month-old Kate—who was sitting and scooting around the house. Her left side still worked very poorly, and her right side was weakened. By then she could speak a few words. She loved to be read to and sung to, and her smile was effervescent. It became increasingly clear Kate was a special blessing, and I didn’t want the burdens and responsibilities of starting a new practice at this critical stage in her life.”
“I don’t blame you,” John commented.
“I wanted—and needed—to be with her and her mom because we were still rebuilding our marriage. So we put our furniture in storage, borrowed my mom and dad’s camper, and went on a three- month camping vacation out West. We visited national parks and seashores and devoted time to each other and Kate.”
“Three whole months?” asked Becky.
“Yep. During that trip Barb and I devoted a lot of time to the physical, speech, and occupational therapy Kate had begun at the CP hospital. With the help of special braces, she had begun to stand more confidently and to take even more steps. We saw her develop so much in those three months, and I’ve never regretted investing the time in my family.”
“I bet you all have lots of special memories,” Ken remarked.
“We sure do. In fact, one of the most special memories occurred in Yellowstone National Park, among its spectacular vistas and wildlife. Kate seemed especially interested in the buffalo and the elk. We enjoyed taking park ranger–led nature walks, and Kate apparently absorbed more than we imagined. At a roadside viewpoint, we had pulled over to observe a large herd of elk near the road, quietly grazing in the knee-high grass of the roadside meadow. We were sitting on a bench, watching the spectacle, when Barb asked Kate, ‘Can you call the elk?’”
“I wish you could have seen it,” Barb added. “Kate took her good hand, her right hand, and held it next to her mouth, as she had seen a park ranger demonstrate earlier that day. She drew in a big breath, threw back her head, and bellowed, ‘Heeeeeeeeeeeere elk!’ Several of the nearby elk looked up and stared at us while chewing their lunch.”
“Kate began to giggle and then laugh almost hysterically,” I recalled. “As we watched the elk, Kate pointed to a small calf that had apparently injured its leg and was limping. She said, ‘Look, Daddy. That baby has a bent leg, just like me.’ I tell you, I had a lump in my throat as I picked her up and held her tight against my chest.”
I lowered my head as I felt tears streaking down my cheeks. I was glad Barb carried on with the story. “When we arrived here in Bryson City, one of our concerns was that there were no services for children with cerebral palsy. But the folks who cared for Kate at Duke had recommended the Cherokee branch of the Child Development Center at Western Carolina University. So I take Kate to the center at least twice a week for physical, speech, and occupational therapy, and I continue the therapy at home every morning and evening. And our love for her deepens in ways we never could have imagined.”
I wiped the tears from my eyes and looked up. There was silence at the table. I took a deep breath and let it out. “So, John, I’m not sure I have an answer for your friend except to say that this side of heaven I don’t believe a whole lot of our ‘Why, God?’ questions will be answered. And I’ve come to believe the real question is ‘What?’”
“‘What?’” asked John.
“Yep. Like ‘God, what are you trying to teach me?’ or ‘God, what are you going to do in and through me with this difficult situation?’ ”
“Or,” Barb added, “maybe what appears to the world to be an adversity is, in fact, one of the greatest blessings you’ll ever receive. Maybe that’s why one of my favorite Scripture verses is the one that says, ‘And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.’”
John nodded. “Well, like I told ya, I’ve been askin’ God ’bout this all mornin’ long. And I reckon y’all are an answer to my prayer. I suspect God’s gonna answer their prayers too. Maybe not today, maybe not the way they want, but certainly in ways they’ll never suspect.”
“Amen!” my spirit welled up in agreement.
TO BE CONTINUED
PAST STORIES FROM BRYSON CITY TALES
- The Murder (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- The Arrival (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Hemlock Inn (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Grand Tour (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Interview (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- Settling In (Part 1); (Part 2)
- First-Day Jitters (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Emergency (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Delivery (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The “Expert” (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Trial (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Shiitake Sam (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Wet Behind the Ears (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- Lessons in Daily Practice (Part 1) — Anal Angina; (Part 2); (Part 3); (Part 4)
- White Lies
- The Epiphany (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Becoming Part of the Team (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Monuments (Part 1); (Part 2)
- My First Home Victory (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Fisher of Men (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Fly-Fishing (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Something Fishy (Part 1); (Part 2)
- A Good Day at the Office
- An Evening to Remember
- Another New Doc Comes to Town
- ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Part 1); (Part 2)
- A Surprising Gift
- The New Year (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Home Birth (Part1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- The Showdown (Part1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- The Initiation (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- Home at Last (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
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