A Letter Made the Difference

By Mary Johansen

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    It was the hardest letter I had ever written. Not knowing how it would be received, I struggled to find the right words.

    It had been five years since I last communicated with my ex-husband’s mother. I was now remarried and trying to offer the love of four children to a grandmother who hadn’t seen or heard from them in all that time.

    “Do what you feel you must do,” my husband said, although he didn’t like the idea too well. “Don’t start something you might regret later,” my mother told me.

    But there was something else prompting me—a different spirit that said, “You must let her know that her only grandchildren are alive, well, and happy.”

    So I wrote the letter. Offering to put aside our past, I spoke of future visits with loved grandchildren and friendship with our family. I included the children’s school pictures.

    Grandmother June was in the hospital when the letter arrived. Following surgery, she had developed an infection that slowed her healing and was the start of a deep depression. She had had an unhappy life, and no one was really surprised when she seemed to give up the will to live. Days went by as she lay there, uncaring and unfeeling.

    Bill, her husband, brought her cards and letters as they arrived, but it didn’t seem to help. A few days before Thanksgiving a priest came to administer last rites. There was not much hope for her recovery.

    That day, when Bill brought the mail in, June took an interest in one of the letters. He opened it, spilling the children’s photographs onto the bed. Both of them reached at once for the pictures. Bill kissed them again and again. June was too weak to do more than look at the treasure and weep.

    Later in the afternoon she told a surprised nurse, “I’m hungry. Please bring me something to eat.” With a new will to live, June sat up in bed for the first time in many days. Soon she was strong enough to answer my letter. She was overjoyed to read about the children, happy to forget about past problems, and excited about seeing her grandchildren again.

    We drove to Pennsylvania that summer and visited June and Bill, sharing together a great gift of love and gratitude. I don’t know that my letter saved her life, but I do know that the Spirit of the Lord prompted me to write. And I am deeply thankful that the Spirit urged me to do it when I felt like not doing it.