Last september, late on a Sunday afternoon, a ladder slipped from under my husband and he crashed onto our asphalt driveway. Around midnight, he headed into emergency surgery to repair a fractured femur. I waited in his hospital room, surrounded by the constant hum of a medical/surgical unit, feeling very alone. The wall clock faithfully ticked off hour after hour, much too slowly for my anxious mind. So I wouldn't feel as though my world was spinning completely out of control, I assessed my options for the help we'd need during Tom's recovery.
Fortunately, my anxieties over how I'd manage our boys, my job and a post-surgical husband didn't run too deep. I knew of one immensely reliable person who would graciously offer her "911" services to a family in distress—my mother-in-law.
Agnes lives only a few hours away, and when she learned of Tom's accident she was ready for action. Four days after the accident, she pulled into our driveway a few hours before Tom and I arrived home from the hospital, and in her unassuming manner soon filled in wherever help was needed. I'm still not sure how she knows just what to do, but I did know that with her under our roof we'd eat normal meals. We wouldn't run out of milk and bread. Our third-grader wouldn't fall behind in his studies and would instead ace his spelling tests. Our three-year-old wouldn't lose out on a moment of cuddle time. For a while, life might be far from normal, but it wouldn't be impossible.1