2,373 Miles Away


My mother, Eleanor Cunningham

By Jan Elder

My mother’s twin sister passed away in March 2015. My mom, Eleanor, is 91 years old and still going strong, but the death of her sister hit her hard. It was bad enough that this was Mom’s last sibling, but since my Aunt Jean was her identical twin, it was a great deal to go through.

My Aunt’s funeral was on a Monday, a beautiful service for a good Christian woman. My mother spoke for twenty minutes and talked all about their life growing up, how they became Christians, and what it was like being a twin. I was so very, very proud of her. Mom comes from hearty Maine stock and she didn’t break down. She told the audience she was saving up her tears for later.

The next day, Tuesday, I traveled to Idaho to visit my own sister, Diane. I live in Maryland so it was a long trip and I was still feeling sad. Most of all, I hated to leave my mom at this emotional time. But hey, she promised she’d be fine, I had non-refundable tickets, etc. etc. and I was really looking forward to communing with my own sister. So, I left as planned and flew cross-country. The next night, at midnight, I got a call from a nurse in the retirement community where my mom lives. Mom was very sick and on her way to the hospital.

I was 2,373 miles away and there was nothing I could do to help her. We are very close—I live an hour away but I drive to see her once a week—and thinking of her all alone in the hospital with no one there to hold her hand broke my heart.

The next morning, it was determined that mom had a bowel obstruction, something pretty serious, especially when you’re a nonagenarian. My husband, the person who would normally step in and help, was down with an upper respiratory infection, and therefore, was not allowed to visit. He could check in with the nurses and relay the info to me, but he couldn’t be there with her in her hour of need.

I called Mom’s church and her pastor and associate pastor were both out of town. I called a few other people that might be able to help, but no one was answering the phone. That is until I reached Eileen. Not only had she accompanied my mom and me to Aunt Jean’s funeral a few days before, but she stepped in and came to my mother’s rescue in her hour of need. She rushed to the hospital and brought mom some clothes, personal items, a get-well card, and flowers. She talked to the nurses, made sure mom was as comfortable as she could be, and called me often to update me on mom’s progress.

It took a few days for some of Mom’s other friends to show up, but Eileen was there when it mattered most. She did what I would have done. She held mom’s hand. When I was feeling helpless, she was there. Mom wasn’t alone.
And how is my mother? She was in the hospital for a week and then in a rehab facility for three weeks. Now, she’s back home and feeling fine.

Thank you, God, for sending Eileen. I am very grateful.


Jan Elder is a Christian romance writer with a zeal for telling stories other women can relate to. She strives to write the kind of book that will strengthen the reader’s faith while also providing an entertaining and engrossing love story.

Happily married for twelve years to loving (and supportive) husband, Steve, the two live in central Maryland and comb the nearby countryside in search of the perfect ice cream flavor.


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