You’ve heard the Yiddish proverb: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”

Well, we’ve contributed in no small way to the Maker’s mirth in recent weeks.

After successfully seeing our two younger children off to college at the tail end of August, my husband and I breathed a sigh of relief and prepared to dig in at work and home.

Lying ahead, we assumed, would be occasional quieter weeknights; hadn’t we heard from acquaintances and strangers alike that an empty nest could be surprisingly lonely and maybe even boring?

Not for a second!

The first three weeks were a revelation, with seemingly extra time added to our schedules that allowed for a movie, a couple of visits to the new Forbidden Barrel Brewery and a get-away theater weekend, among other delights. We were loving it!

But on Sept. 19, my 83-year-old mother suffered a medical crisis that required emergency surgery, followed by an 11-day hospitalization an hour away. Our focus abruptly shifted from work and fun to survival mode, with frequent trips between home and hospital, medical consultations, added duties to maintain an additional household and of course monitoring her progress and hoped-for return to health.

God was, indeed, chortling — or was He? Maybe His timing was, instead, perfect, in that we had fewer daily responsibilities for children and thus more ability to be flexible in support of my mother and her needs.

In any case, developments like these offer an opportunity to gain a concrete sense of the solid yet often invisible wall that surrounds us and keeps us from crumbling when we most need to be strong. From helpful pastors, friends and the “do-ers” who simply cannot be thanked enough to the medical professionals and caregivers providing their expertise at each step, we realize we are not alone and that, even at the lowest moments, we are blessed.

And while much of Worthington, our state and even the country buzzed about “that Washington Post article,” we had the chance to experience once again the wonderful things immigrants and diversity bring to our lives and community.

While in the hospital, my mother appreciated the skill and attention of nurses and nursing assistants like Jiovanny, who hailed from Guatemala before settling in Sioux Falls, S.D.

At the care center where she is staying for rehabilitation services, dietary aides and Certified Nursing Assistants include cheerful, capable and bilingual Worthington High School students like Alex, Perla and Rosie. These teenagers spend hours each week helping the sick and elderly in between doing their homework, marching in competitive parades and singing in the school choir.

Other adult aides are Ethiopian and Latino Worthington residents, some of whom my mother previously instructed in Adult Basic Education or ESL classes. They are lovely, hard-working and empathetic people; without them, her time there would be much less tolerable.

And immigrants here are integral to our area’s economy in so many other ways; they harvest crops, milk cows, process meat, pack vegetables and provide child care, to name only a few of the myriad jobs they are eagerly and ably filling.

Shun them? Look down on them? Refuse to greet them? No, the impulses I and my family share involve gratitude, respect for their common humanity and a desire, especially when they are direct caregivers to members of my own immediate family, to hug and thank them.

Our appreciation extends to all who have given help in these challenging days. Yes, God may be having a bit of a laugh at our expense, but He’s also placed angels in our path to lighten the load.

Check out Time for Moore, Jane Turpin Moore’s blog, at