The Story of Her Life

“There’s not enough!  The story of my life.”

The red-headed lady who raised me was disgusted.  A new baby was due soon to a young couple in our church and she was on a deadline to finish the crocheted blanket.  The baby shower had come and gone without a gift to offer, but she remained confident the project would be completed before the little tyke’s arrival.


Just inches short of the intended size, she had run out of the variegated yarn she loved to use on such projects.  There was no way she had time to order more.  Alas, the child might actually come into this world without the blanket.  From her perspective, it would be a disaster.

“The story of my life!”  She repeated the plaintive phrase.  She threw up her hands in disgust and, sticking the crochet needle through the loosely-knit material, tossed the blanket into the wicker basket beside her chair.

She was done, it seemed.

Giving up.

Ah!  But we knew better.  It was only a matter of time.

She sat, moping, in the easy chair.

Anytime now

There it was.  The index finger on her right hand went to her mouth.  She tapped her lips, muttering.

“I wonder…”

The change was abrupt when it came.  Her left hand plunged into the basket and pulled the good-for-nothing blanket back onto her lap.  She began to yank on the single tendril of yarn hanging out of the edge, at exactly the same place she had ceased her labor only moments before.

Like a mad-woman, she worked–ripping out the same stitches she had put in laboriously in the hours preceding.  We wondered if she had gone mad.  The thought didn’t last long.  She soon stopped and examined the blanket to see where she was.  Then, more slowly than at first, she continued to pull at the yarn.  There was a sizable pile at her feet when she finally stopped.

Talking to herself, she said,  “That should do it.  I hope this works.”

Grabbing a full skein of contrasting colored yarn from the shelf beside her, she began to work once more.  The stitch pattern was different than the main body of the blanket, but she was no longer making the blanket.  This was a border.  Before it was done, it would be two inches wide around all four sides of the little blanket.

A two-inch border of ingenuity and flexibility.

The finished blanket was beautiful–a perfect wrapping for the tiny baby who would arrive that week.  And, every time she saw the baby in its carrier, swaddled in the little blanket, the red-headed lady would stop and admire him.

I wonder if anyone else noticed that she always took hold of the border of the little guy’s blanket and rubbed it between her fingers.  Perhaps they thought the smile on her face was because of the baby.

I wonder.

I will always be sad to remember her initial reaction.  She seemed to truly believe that unhappy events were just her personal due in life.  Like her mother before her, my mom wasn’t much of an optimist.

Frequently, she would use phrases like the story of my life and par for the course to describe her expectations.  Anytime an unplanned or unhappy event occurred, she thought it was simply what she had coming to her.

And, that makes me sad.

What doesn’t make me sad is the realization that she didn’t let that expectation stop her from both starting, and seeing projects through to completion, even when interrupted by the frequent checks that momentarily discouraged her from continuing.

Like a dog worrying a particularly tough bone, her surrender was nearly always short-lived.  Even if it took hours of concentration and exploration of alternatives, she would eventually crack the problem open to savor the sweet taste of success.

Funny.  We all experience the momentary setbacks.  The disappointment of plans gone awry are common to every one of us.

Every one of us.  Our Savior promised us trouble in this world.

It’s not personal.

Maybe, it’s time to get past the par for the course thinking and get on with finishing the blanket. Or whatever task God has put in front of us.

We’ll take pride in the result.  Even if it’s not what we envisioned to begin with.

We tackle our problems head-on and finish the job.

And, that is the story of our lives.

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road.  Unless you fail to make the turn.”
(Helen Keller ~ Deaf & blind American author/lecturer ~ 1880-1968)

“In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 ~ NIV)

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”
(Psalm 23:6a ~ KJV)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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