I got these flowers the other day, from an Amish farm wife down the road. They’re fading now, but I wanted to take a picture while I could. Her reason for giving them to me? I have been singing to her daughter Katie.
Katie is seventeen years old. A year ago she turned sixteen and began “running around with the young folks.” One of her favorite activities was the Sunday night singings, and soon she knew many of the “fast songs” by heart. (Many of those are the gospel songs and hymns that some of us know).
But in March 2020 (it is now July as I write this), she was stricken with paralysis. The cause turned out to be a fast-growing malignant tumor on her spine. The doctors said there was nothing to be done and sent her home with no hope of recovery. At one point she was given three weeks to live. At first she was paralyzed from the neck down, but after a blood clot dissolved in her upper spine, she can now use her arms and hands again and can sit in a wheelchair, when she feels up to it.
She is in good spirits these days, after some dark times at the beginning. Her faith in God is strong. When she expressed a wish to join her church and be baptized, her Amish bishop expedited the usual instruction sessions. So a couple of weeks ago, she came to church in her wheelchair, affirmed her faith, was baptized, and became a full member of the Amish church.
I heard about Katie (not her real name) from another Amish friend of mine a couple of months ago. My first thought was, “Maybe I could sing for her, like I sing for Mrs. R.” I had met her father last year when I bought some books from him, so I knew where she lived… But every time I thought about driving over there, my cowardice held me back. What would they think?
But my little voice wouldn’t let me forget about Katie, and eventually I listened and pulled into her driveway one afternoon.
The whole family was sitting outside under a shade tree having lunch. I plunged ahead and asked if she would like me to stop by and sing to her some time soon. Both she and her mother said that would be very nice. Whew! I felt good that I had finally listened to my ‘little voice’ instead of my fear.
So, now I stop by their farm with my hymnal every week. Sometimes Katie is weak and bedridden, and the tears in her eyes tell me everything… but sometimes she is stronger and can sit up a little and sing along with me. Sometimes some of her little brothers and sisters gather around their sister’s hospital bed, set up in a corner of the living room along with her oxygen tank.
Her mother tells me over and over how much she appreciates my coming, but I tell her it’s my privilege to be allowed to be there! I don’t know Katie’s future, but I’m glad to be a part of it.
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Update: More on Katie here.