Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I have been putting off this post for awhile. You'll forgive my lack of eloquence, but this is going to have to be a nuts and bolts, medical update only.

Mom and Dad saw Dr. Kelly last week, and she confirmed what we had suspected - this current chemo is the end of the line for treatment. Dad will have another scan in 2 weeks, and if he's not responding to treatment, then that's it. If he is responding, even then, I think we're looking at a very finite amount of time. Dr, Kelly did not give any estimate of how long he may have, as it's very dependent on the next scan. Dad is continuing to get weaker and weaker, we can see that he is failing. He is also scared and lonely, and that's hard to see. If you are reading this and you know my Dad, please take the time to drop him a note or give him a call, it would mean a lot to him. Thank you to St. Michael's Pastoral Care, who continue to be supportive and amazing throughout this. Dad loves all your visits! Keep my Father in your prayers.

Monday, July 6, 2009

I normally go to the drive through at my bank. True to my rushed, minivan driving, over scheduled suburban momdom, I rarely get out of my car unless I have to. I can't tell you why I did today, of all days.

I saw him getting out of his car as I was. Old, very old, wizened man, slowly making his way to the bank. I gave a thought to seeing if he needed help, but I thought the better of it - I didn't want to seem patronizing. Coming out of the bank, we were leaving at the same time. I held the door for him, and looked at all the pins on his baseball hat.
"You were a police officer?" I asked politely.
That was the question that launched an hour conversation, possibly one of the most profound of my life.

First, he reached in his pocket and pulled out a carved pin. He held it out to me. "What does that look like to you?" I leaned over it, quizzical. He continued "That's a black walnut. They're the ugliest things, messy, they stain everything. But you cut them in half, and look how beautiful! Looks like a smiling face! How can it be that God makes something that's so ugly on the outside and so beautiful on the inside?" He pressed it into my hand. "I carry these around with me, I make them to give away - never know who I'm supposed to give 'em to, but I know I'm supposed to give one to you."

I learned that he was a police officer, and also a veteran of WWII that was injured on Utah Beach. This was a man who, at 92, has lived 10 lives. I told him about my Grandfather fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, I told him about my Father dying of cancer. In 1985, they diagnosed him with esophageal cancer and gave him a few years to live. And yet, here he was. When he marveled at how long he's lived and trying to understand why he's still here, I found myself blurting out: "Because you're not done yet." He smiled and pointed his finger at me. "Exactly." He went on to talk about God's plan for us all, and how it doesn't make sense all the time - most of the time- but that when your work is done, it's time to go.

About 30 years ago, his daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren were in a terrible car accident. His ten year old granddaughter was killed. He told me about going into the morgue, and wanting to scoop her up in his arms, do anything to bring her back ("this was a child who loved Jesus," he told me.) and he says he swears he heard a voice say "Leave her with Me."

Have you ever had such a deep conversation with someone that the world around you seems to melt away? I was aware that people were coming and going and looking at us strangely, but I felt like I was in a bubble with this man. He looked at me very seriously and said "you know, you can be a disciple. You have the authority. When you feel the time is right with your Dad, you can sit with him and tell him to ask God for guidance. Go home and read John 16. You will understand and be able to minster to him." As soon as I got home, I read this:

"Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, "Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, 'In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me'? I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy."

I got goosebumps after reading that. The whole encounter left me feeling like I was a part of something bigger than I can comprehend. I was meant to meet this man. Thank you, Lloyd Robinson. You are my angel in a pick up truck. I will strive to be beautiful on the inside.