Face washed, teeth brushed, evening pills taken, and wearing her favorite pink-flowered nightgown, Sadie was snuggling down in her oh-so-comfy bed. It was dressed in fresh sheets and blankets and crowned with an assortment of pillows so she could always find just the right one for the night at hand. She stretched contentedly. She was so sleepy, and there wasn’t a place in the world that she’d rather be than right here in her own little nest.
Having done what she considered her “serious praying” all day long, she now simply recited the prayers she’d been saying since childhood: “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep” and “Dear Jesus in Heaven” and “Ich Bin Klein,” the latter taught to her by a little girlfriend’s German grandma a lifetime ago.
She thought about that little girl. Ilse was her name, and she’d had the prettiest long brown hair, usually worn in braids, and she often wore those cute little dirndls. She called her grandma Oma, as Sadie recalled. Even though Oma had smelled—well, old was probably the best way of putting it—and had had a heavy accent, she was the nicest grandma ever. And she’d taught them this wonderful little prayer that Sadie had never forgotten, even though she wasn’t exactly sure of its meaning. Something about--
Sadie’s left arm had started tingling to beat the band, like it had suddenly woken up from a sound sleep.
And now her left leg.
And the left side of her body, and her head, too.
What is going on?
Now her arm felt like it was in a very tight sleeve that was getting tighter by the moment. Not the rest of her body, though. Just the left side.
And then she realized what it had to be: a stroke, of course. Little Sadie Gottschalk Sparrow was having a stroke.
Not that she seemed to be paralyzed or anything. Yes, her arm and leg still moved as commanded. She forced a smile and felt her mouth—no drooping there, as far as she could tell.
She debated her options silently.
She could hit the call button right now to summon help. That would mean an ambulance trip to the hospital, and hours in the ER, and from what Gladys had told her recently in enumerating her own hospitalizations, a day or two under observation with the doctors doing nothing—absolutely nothing—to make her any better.
Or she could wait a while to see what would happen. Maybe this would all go away and she’d get a good night’s sleep and all would be well in the morning. Yes, she’d heard that there was a four-hour window of opportunity for treatment. What treatment, she was not sure, but people were always saying it was important to act quickly with a stroke. So maybe she’d wait a half hour, till 11 p.m., and decide then.
Or she could do nothing, and point herself towards heaven.
She wasn’t sure about that, though. Had she really been a good enough person to get in? What if she got there and they threw her into the other place? What if she could see Ed waiting there at the pearly gates, smiling eagerly until he saw St. Peter shake his head and Sadie’s face fall--
Oh, it was too unbearable to think about! And now her heart was really racing.
“Calm down, Sadie,” she told herself softly. “Stop thinking about that. You know you’ve lived a lot better life than most people. You’ve never murdered anyone or stolen anything and you were certainly never one to swear. You’ll be fine.”
That thought helped a bit. She thought back through some of the greater kindnesses of her life, the many times she helped their old neighbor Mrs. Grace hang her wash out to dry—no small task!—and the bandage rolling she did during World War II and the time she marched all the way back to Woolworth’s because the clerk had given her a dime too much in change. And even today, advising Meg to pray; that would surely count to her good.
She was feeling calmer now, although the tingling hadn’t abated, nor had the tightness in her arm.
Besides, Jamie had just said that being a good person was not the issue. Just as Ed had always insisted.
What exactly had Jamie said about that? It was something she’d known on some level, like she knew that five times nine is forty-five and that “we” is the first person plural.
Apparently she wasn’t thinking too clearly right now, because that didn’t really make much sense.
“Dear Lord,” she breathed. “Please—”
Please what, Sadie?
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done . . .”
That was it! That was what Ed and Papa had always prayed for, no matter how dire the circumstances: Thy will be done.
“Please Lord, may Thy will be done with this old body of mine. Whatever you think is fine with me.”
And she began earnestly presenting Him with the options, and the likely consequences to others.
--From The Song of Sadie Sparrow, pages 120-123