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A CloudyAnswer

Story ID:2469
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family History
Writers Conference:$500 2007 Family Memories Writing Project
Location:Fort Lee New Jersey USA
Person:My Family
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A Cloudy Answer

I stood in the kitchen and made my lunch for the next day.
There was an urgent knock on our front door. I assumed it was
one of my son's friends and expected him to answer it. When he
didn't rush down the stairs, I stopped what I was doing, opened
the door, and was greeted by a burly, unshaven man. "Mr. Smith?"
he snarled.

"Yes?" I replied. "How…."

He cut me off. "I'm here to repossess your car. I need your
keys!" He handed me a card. "I already have your car hooked to
my truck. There's a number on that card. You need to call
tomorrow. If you don't make payments, your car will be auctioned

Ginny joined me. Our car trailed the tow truck, turned the
corner, and rolled out of sight. We clutched each other in bed
that night and cried.

Times were tough. I worked in a low-paying job. My wages
weren't enough to cover the bills. Feeding seven people and
living in one of the most expensive areas in the country was
a challenge, especially with three growing grandchildren.

After struggling to get our car back, I sat on our deck
in the middle of the night. My stepdaughter, Heather, and her
three boys slept in their room. Ginny slept in our room and
my son slept in his. It was a perfect summer night - temperatures
in the 70's and no wind. Behind me, a bright moon lit the few
clouds that drifted across the sky. A couple of stars struggled
to outshine the light of the moon and the lights of Manhattan a
few miles away.

As everyone slept, I put my head back. With my face to
the sky, I closed my eyes and began to pray. "Lord!" I began.
"I don't know what you want from me. I need your help. We're
struggling to survive.

"I know you have a plan for everyone and everything. You
put rocks in our path to give us strength, but, Lord, I don't
know if I'm strong enough for the mountain in front of me.

"When you took Georgia home with you, I was lost. A spilled
bag of peas got me back on track. I watched them roll across
the floor and saw what my life had become - a scattered mess.

"I cried on my knees, as I tried to pull the peas into a
pile. Later I saw your wisdom. It was your lesson to me - one
piece at a time.

"Lord, I'm not seeing it this time. What do you want from

"I thank you for bringing Ginny into my life. She's
everything I prayed for. You looked down and pulled our two
grief-stricken hearts together.

"Lord, you took our spouses home to you and left us alone.
We doubted you. 'Why?' we cried. You made it right again, but
now I have doubts. How much must Ginny and I go through?

"Lord, there's my writing. I love it. It's not a career.
All I'm doing is writing from my heart. I don't know where it's
heading, but I feel it is going somewhere. Lord, people around
the world are emailing me. They tell me their problems and joys.
They thank me for touching their hearts.

"Where's it going, Lord? I'm hurting and struggling, but
in some way, I'm helping others. I thought helping those in
need was to work in a soup kitchen, donating to charities, or
laboring for those who couldn't.

"Is sharing my words and my heart with the world what
you want me to do, Lord? It doesn't seem to be going anywhere.
This time, your will is not as clear as the spilled bag of peas,
then again, I didn't see that message until many months later.
This bag of peas is taking a lot longer to pick up. I'm not
sure I'll be able to gather them all up."

Alone on my deck that night, with nothing but the hum
of New York City traffic in the distance, I prayed for more
than an hour. "Lord, what do you want me to do?"

I opened my eyes. In the black sky above, one single
cloud, lit white by the moon, looked back at me. The cloud
was shaped in the form of a bearded man's face. Through
the black eye sockets, stars twinkled.

The answer was cloudy clear.


Life is better now. Ginny and I are slowly getting back
on our feet. Our bills are paid on time. We can afford a pizza
and maybe dinner out once-in-a-while. Heather remarried. She
and the three boys are building a new life in Idaho with her
new husband. My son does his thing and Ginny and I enjoy our
love for each other.

There are hills and mountains ahead, but the face in
the clouds still stares at me. I know it's going to be OK.

Michael T. Smith