You can’t make an old dog learn new tricks, right? Well, Miss Ella didn’t believe in this old saying. She believed she could accomplish whatever her old mind set out to do. Miss Ella was 85 years old. She had raised her family, buried her husband, held nine, new grand babies, and still wanted to accomplish new tasks in life.
She saw the ghetto written on the sides of trains. She paid attention to the graffiti on wooden fences. She shook her head at the trash laying on the edges of the roads. She wanted to fix it; but she knew she couldn’t do it alone; she needed help.
She wrote a few letters to the Editor of the local newspaper. She called the city mayor and only reached voice-mails. She called the President’s phone; but never got through. She stopped the preacher at the end of the Sunday service and requested a time slot for the next Sunday before he started preaching.
Saturday evening, she found her prettiest, flowered dress. She put a few stitches in a little hole that had been forming. She washed her hair and rolled it on her old, brush rollers. She scrubbed her face until it shone bright and was a blushing red.
When bedtime arrived, she took all the rollers out but the ones she had on top. She was just too darn old to sleep with curlers in her hair. She sat on the edge of her bed and prayed a prayer. “Dear God, I know you have answered plenty of prayers in my time for me, and some you haven’t answered. If you just answer this one last request, I will be ready to come home, I promise. Now the request is, give me the right words that will let people want to pay attention”.
She pulled her covers back and taking her slippers off one by one, lifted her tired legs into bed and covered up. She fell asleep with hope. The next morning, sun was shining bright as a Christmas morning star. The scent of flowers drifted through the bedroom window straight into her nostrils.
She sat up and thanked God for giving her one more day. Putting her slippers on, she went and started brewing the coffee. While waiting she splashed cold water over her face and brushed her dentures.
The coffee being ready, she took it and sat down at the kitchen table, where she opened her Bible to the next chapter. She asked God to give her understanding of what she was about to read. Coffee was drunk, reading done; time to get ready for church.
She took great care at making sure her stockings were on straight. She slipped on her repaired dress and black shoes. She combed and teased her hair until every hair was in its place. She put some blush on her cheeks and stood back and looked at herself in the mirror. She was as ready as she could be. Grabbing her purse and cane, she walked out her door to meet the people at the church.
The songs were sung, the morning alerts were read. The preacher was standing and had everyone’s attention. He said that he was going to delay his sermon for a few minutes because Miss Ella had something important to say.
Everyone turned and looked at Miss Ella as she made her way slowly from the middle of the pews to the front. The preacher helped her up the two steps and she stood in front of the pulpit.
Clearing her throat and giving her biggest smile to her audience she began to speak. ” I have lived a long life, most longer than most of you young ones sitting here. I have tried to do good and I try to be a service to others. I am getting old now and yet I feel like I can’t leave this good earth without doing one more good thing for our town. I have noticed for sometime the writings on the trains and the trash along the sides of the roads. I feel like if I could just get a few of you to come with me on next Saturday, we could split up and make a difference in our small town. I promised God last night that if I got this to happen, I would be ready to come home”.
The room was silent. I knew without a doubt the saying “you could hear a pin drop” was true at this very moment. She noticed people looking at her, looking at each other. Some were whispering to each other.
She thanked the preacher for letting her have this time to speak and he held her hand so she could step down the two steps. As she made her way back to her seat, people stood up in each row she passed. There was clapping and cheering.
Miss Ella didn’t know what to think. No one had ever cheered for her. When she sat down, one of the members went up to the mic. ” We, as a group and family of this congregation, want to thank Miss Ella for the good deeds she has done in her life. We want to thank her for looking our for our community, and we want to personally say, we are with you Miss Ella. Why wait until next Saturday? Who ever can start tomorrow and continue or fill in til and including next Saturday, raise your hands”.
Everyone raised their hands. Miss Ella started crying. She knew that God had answered her prayer. She knew that her time was nearing; she had made a promise. In exactly eight days, the streets looked better and Miss Ella met her maker.