Prayers may be waiting on Line 1

By Tammy Keith Originally Published April 7, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated April 5, 2013 at 10:49 a.m.
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A phone call can bring a lot of things.

We wait for phone calls to hear good news — “She had the baby!” — or bad — “Yes, it looks like cancer.”

It’s the way the oil-spill crisis in Mayflower started, with a call to 911.

Then the mayor got a call from his police chief: “Boy, we’ve got a problem.”

Those aren’t words anyone ever wants to hear.

Most of us with cellphones know who’s calling before we answer — so sometimes, we don’t.

I don’t know how many times I’ve called somewhere from my work phone, and no one answers. Then I use my personal phone, and amazingly, the person picks up.

In the old days as a reporter, there was no such thing as caller ID. We picked up that big, clunky handset and never knew who was going to be on the other end — a reader with a wild story of conspiracy that he thought we should chase down, or a mad subscriber about a story he didn’t agree with. Or, sometimes it’s a person with a great story lead that we would never have known about otherwise. I love those.

I have caller ID on my phone here at work, but it’s honestly so hard to see that I don’t use it. I just answer, and I never know who is going to be at the other end. Sometimes it’s a recording about a trip somewhere, and I slam the phone down. If I’m on deadline, sometimes I let the phone ring and listen to my message later.

The other day, I was knee-deep in oil-spill stories, and my phone rang. I grabbed it and probably sounded stressed.

It was a woman, a senior citizen, who is a regular reader of our statewide paper — front to back, she said — and my column. She reminded me that she’d called me a few years ago when our beloved 12-year-old dog, Panda, had gone missing. I remembered that after she told me.

She said nice things about my columns, and what she said next really blew me away: “I pray for you.”

I’ve never met this woman. Wow.

I thanked her and said I need all the prayers I can get.

She told me that her husband died a couple of years ago, and there were things she didn’t get a chance to say. She promised herself, she told me, that when she had something good to say to someone, she was going to tell them.

What a great lesson for all of us.

My day changed after that. My stress level went down. That night, when I was searching for information and hitting a brick wall, I thought of her.

She was praying for me, and that had to be helping. I said a little prayer and stopped worrying, and the next phone call I made, the person answered and gave me the information I needed.

I didn’t even know the woman’s name, but I thought to ask at the end of the conversation.

It’s Mary (appropriate, I thought).

I’ll probably hear from her again, and that’s a phone call I’ll be happy to answer.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or

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