Verla didn’t know what to think when a group of Mennonites came to sing for her husband. Neither did they for that matter; they did not know the people in this house. However, someone had suggested they sing for this dying man and so they did. Verla and the children stayed in another room until the strangers left. They came back several times before cancer took her husband and she lost a little of her uncertainty.
When the Mennonite congregation had Vacation Bible School the next summer, they invited Verla’s children and they went. The connection to these people grew a little stronger, friendships began to form.
One day Verla noticed a sadness in one of her new friends and asked why. Her friend said she had been thinking about the future and about how she and Verla would not be together in heaven unless something changed. Verla asked what she needed to do to change that and her friend explained a little about repentance and the way to find forgiveness from God.
“I’ve never prayed in my life, I don’t know how,” Verla responded. “Is it OK if I just call God on the phone?”
Putting her fist beside her face like a phone receiver, with thumb and little finger extended, she began: “Hello God, this is Verla. I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” and began to confess the things she had done which she knew were wrong, finally breaking down in sobs. When the sobbing had ended, Verla knew that God had heard, and answered.
Now if Verla was going to be a Christian, there was not going to be anything half-hearted about it. None of her clothes were fit for a Christian to wear, so she asked the sisters of the congregation to help her make a whole new wardrobe. The change in Verla’s life was almost too much at first for the four teenagers in her household, but gradually they accepted the change in their mother.
Her daughter began to pray for a new dad. Someone suggested that she should rather pray for a husband for herself. Yet the time came when Abe, a lonely widower whose children were all grown, proposed to Verla. Her children were afraid that this tired, soft-spoken old man would be no match for their fiery mother.
Yet the marriage was a happy one. Abe was rejuvenated, learning to laugh and enjoy life more than ever before. Verla relaxed in the security of Abe’s love and became a gentler and happier person than she had been before. (The daughter did find a husband, too, or rather was found by him.)
Abe & Verla’s happiness lasted 12 years, then Alzheimer’s took Verla away from Abe. Abe died two years later, but Verla lasted eight more years. She quietly breathed her last a week ago and the funeral was three days ago. The minister who had baptized her 35 years ago came to preach the funeral sermon. The children from both sides shared many happy memories, and many humourous happenings, that had marked the marriage of their mother and father. All because one day Verla decided to call God on the phone.