The Prayers Of Agnes Sparrow

Joyce Magnin

Joyce Magnin is the author of The Prayers Of Agnes Sparrow, short fiction and personal experience articles. She co-authored the book, Linked to Someone in Pain. She has been published in such magazines as Relief Journal, Parents Express, Sunday Digest, and Highlights for Children. Joyce attended Bryn Mawr College and is a member of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship. She is a frequent workshop leader at various writer’s conferences and women’s church groups. She has three children, Rebekah, Emily, and Adam; one grandson, Lemuel Earnest; one son-in-law, Joshua, and a neurotic parakeet who can’t seem to keep a name. Joyce leads a small fiction group called StoryCrafters. She enjoys baseball, football, cream soda, and needle arts but not elevators. She currently lives in Havertown, Pennsylvania. You can also visit her blog at:

Regards to the Padded Room

The other day I was on Skype with my daughter and her two little boys. I love technology. It allows me to visit Rebekah and my grandsons in a way that still confounds and astonishes me. I love being able to see them. However, with that comes a dose of reality that might be lost over the phone or in letters. I get to see my grandson Lemmy pull the cat’s tail, leap from the couch while barely missing his little brother’s noggin. I get to see little Cedar rip off his diaper and dump the contents on the floor while his mama is busy chatting with me. Ah yes, those were the days. Like so many other mothers, I survived my kids’ toddlerhood.

After our Skype session, I thought back on Rebekah’s wonder years. A couple of incidents can only be seen as a page out of Life Is Stranger than Fiction.

I was about five months pregnant with Emily when we were in a head-on collision on a snowy road. My husband tried to be the hero. Seeing the yellow car careening toward us, he said that he was going to steer into the snow bank, hoping that the yellow car would hit him and not me. Well, he walked away unscathed. Rebekah was fine; she had small lump on her head. I, on the other hand, had a badly broken ankle, a fractured pelvis, and miscellaneous cuts and bruises. Did I mention I was also five months pregnant? Anyhoo, the breaks were serious enough to put me to bed for three months. I was unable to put any weight on the ankle, and so I pretty much lay in bed and watched my body grow. It was not a good thing to see.

Then one day the heavens parted, the sun shone, and I was told I could put weight on the ankle, so I started daily journeys from my bed to the living room. Now this was a sight to be seen. I pretty much had to hurl my huge body across the floor with the aid of a walker. No, we didn’t put tennis balls on the feet. Getting down the steps was an ordeal. I usually threw the walker down with a mighty and somehow satisfying clang and then lowered my body to the floor with all the skill of a piano mover. I then scooted down step by step by step on my behind. Yes, it was kind of like watching a rhino getting herded into a truck.

About two weeks before Emily was born, I had gotten pretty good at maneuvering around the house—still no driving, but I so enjoyed my new freedom. Well, there I was sitting on the sofa, probably eating something unhealthy, when my then three-year-old daughter hollered from upstairs. “Mommy, it’s in the bathroom. Come see.”

My curiosity and concern were piqued enough for me to make the journey back up the steps. I mean anything a three-year-old does in the bathroom is either cause for alarm or amusement. Step by step I ascended the stairs on my rump until I reached Rebekah, who was sitting near the bathroom door. She looked so proud and yet mischievous. It is this kind of expression where we got the phrase about the cat eating the canary.

“What is it, honey?” I asked through clenched teeth.

“Look.” She smiled wider than all outdoors.

Rebekah had taken an entire super-large package of maxi pads (I hadn’t thought much about them for a few months), removed the backing, and stuck them all over the bathroom. They were on the floor, the bathtub, the toilet and sink, the walls. She stuck a pad wherever she could and then proceeded to dump the sticky backing into the toilet. What could I do? I sat there and hugged Rebekah. “Did you do this for me?”

“Yes, Mommy.”

How sweet. I think she might have heard me tell my husband that I was ready for a padded room earlier that morning.

Be careful what you wish for.

Oh, BTW, it would have all been nice except she flushed the toilet and flooded the bathroom. Not the best thing to experience when you are eight and half months pregnant, in a cast up to your knee, and still nursing a broken pelvis.

But, hey, I’m a writer. A year or so later I wrote about this for a parenting magazine and made a $150. So there you go, grist for the mill comes in many sizes. Some days are light days and others are heavy days.


The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow has been selected as one of the top five Christian Inspirational titles of 2009 by Library Journal.

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow