Overheard in the synagogue, during the rabbi's sermon:

"Bella, I haven't seen you in ages. How have you been?"

"Thank G‑d, Harriet. Life goes on. Time passes and we all get older. Some aches and pains...arthritis in the knees, you know...but thank G‑d, otherwise good."

"Tell me. How's your oldest son, Sam? Oy, Bella, I remember the rivers of tears you spilled over that boy! What a run for your money he gave you!"

"Harriet, you know my hair turned gray as a result of that boy…You remember the grief he gave us? It was one mischief after another."

"How could I forget, Bella? The whole town knew about him and his antics. You remember the stern spinster Miss Simpson, who retired from her fifty-year teaching post as a result of his pranks? So, nu, where is he now? What's he up to these days?"

"Would you believe me, Harriet, if I told you now he gives me the most nachas from all my children! Yes, even more than his older brother, Rob, who always was a straight 'A' student. In fact, not a day passes that Sam doesn't call me to ask me how I'm feeling."

"Really, Bella? It can't be!"

"Yes, it's true. Sam's married now, with three beautiful children."

"Sam? I would never have believed he could settle down!"

"He moved out to Jersey. He became a pillar of the community—the shul president and he is an executive member on the board of his children's school. He works on one communal project after another. And he has a successful business that keeps growing."

"Sam? Incredible! How things turn around…!"

"And a model husband he is, that Sam. Treats his wife like a queen. You should see the palace he built for her."

"If I didn't hear it from your own mouth, I would never believe this, Bella. What a change. I'm so happy to hear."

"Oh yes, a real change. Almost a miracle. You can't imagine how much I prayed for him, over the years. I learned the meaning of prayer on that boy."

Have you ever wondered why the kid who was the town terror somehow turned himself around to become an upstanding individual? The teenager who gave the most heartache suddenly settled down to become the favorite uncle, or most beloved member of the community, giving his parents even more nachas than his refined, ever-do-gooder brother?

You could attribute it to maturation. To a sudden shift in paradigm where the mischief-maker decided that enough is enough and it's time to settle down and use his energy productively.

But often enough the change is so pronounced, the blessings so evident, that it seems like more than just time is at work here.

Maybe so. Maybe the incessant prayers for him have finally been heard and realized.

Have a child whom you are giving up hope on? Try praying for him.

It worked for Bella. And Sam.