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Shingles, Rabies, Whooping Cough

by Jan Ackerson  
11/30/2006 / Short Stories

Everyone has a giftmine is worrying. To my credit, Im very good at it. Hardly any of the things I worry about ever happen, and I like to think I had something to do with that.

I know what the Bible says about worrying. Im working on it. Just last week, I was able to not worry that Joy would come home from her sleepover covered with tattoos (by the way, shes only eight). I also didnt worry that my husbands atrocious neckties would cost him a commission. This was actually a banner week for Craighe managed to wear both the trout tie and the orange-and-pink one and still bring home a paycheck.

As I saidIm working on the worrying. But red flags sprung up and waved madly in the breeze when my mother came by for her Saturday visit looking flushed and exhausted.

Moms a remarkable woman. Shes been a single parent since Dad died when I was only ten, and she raised me in such a way that I just naturally fell in love with her Lord. But shes been alone for a long time now, and Ive always known that eventually it would fall upon me to parent her.

Mom, are you all right? I eyed her reddened face and mentally reviewed the list of possible causes. Fever, infection, lupus

Of course, dear, Im fine. She plopped onto the couch and closed her eyes. Im just worn out, thats all. Joy, honey, come give your grandma a kiss. She received Joys smooch, then patted the couch cushion. Joy snuggled close and the two began their weekly ritual: a crossword puzzle and caramels wrapped in crinkly cellophane.

Exhaustion: anemia, mononucleosis, typhoid

Perhaps I watch too many medical shows. Craig says they cause flare-ups of my worry warts.

I watched my mother and my daughter murmuring crossword answers to each other, their heads bent low and close. While I sipped a cup of coffee, I thought back over the events of the past several months, and realized that I couldnt ignore the crescendo of alarms jangling in my brain.


Have you borrowed my small casserole dish, dear? My mother seemed bemused. I just cant find it anywhere, and I cant imagine what Ive done with it.

Losing things: dementia, mini-stroke


Im gong to a concert tomorrow night. Its a piano concerto by Moms voice trailed off, and she squinted with the effort to think.

By who, Mom? I listed her favorite composers. Brahms, Mozart, Mendelssohn

Mendelssohn! Thats the fellow! She chuckled and shook her head. I cant believe I forgot Mendelssohn! Wheres my thinker these days?

Forgetfulness: depression, brain tumor


I cant stay, dear, I have places to go. Mom stopped at the mirror in the foyer and applied raspberry lipstick. Her hand was trembling.

Shakiness: Parkinsons, malaria, mad cow disease


Having convinced myself that Mom was horribly ill, I placed my empty mug on the end table and cleared my throat. Joy, honey, would you go play outside for a while?

My daughter looked up at me, obviously annoyed. Mom! Were not done with this puzzle!

You can finish it in a bit. I want to talk to Grandma.

My mother tugged playfully on Joys blonde ponytail and smiled. Its okay, Jump-for-Joy, run along. I need to talk to your mom, too.

We watched as she sulked to the back door, then we both started to talk at once.



I gestured for her to go ahead. I wasnt sure exactly what I was going to say, anyway, and my heart was thumping alarmingly in my throat.

Dear, I have something to tell you. Ive been to the doctor

I knew it. Oh, help me, sweet Lord, shes got encephalitis. Diphtheria. Typhoid. Leprosy.

and hes put me on a diet. I want to lose twenty pounds by May. So tell Joy for me, will you? After today, no more caramels.

My mind was still attempting to process everything after doctor.

What--a diet? Twenty pounds by May? Butwhy?

Pink spread from Moms neck to her hairline and she looked away from my gaze.

Well, I havent really known how to tell you this, dear. You know how you worry so. Ive beenseeing a gentlemanHoward. Howard Glover. He goes to my square dancing group. Wewere getting married.

I looked at herbeautiful, blushing, a girlish smile plumping her cheeks.

Flushed, exhausted, trembling, forgetful: my mother is in love!

Jan is a Christian who has traveled through sorrow and depression, and has found victory and grace. She dedicates all writings to her Heavenly Father. Check out Jan's website at
Copywrite Jan Ackerson--2006

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