Loving Connections

I wasn't sure that he would even let me come home to help take care of him, but when I called Dad last week after he lost consciousness and fell down, he seemed relieved that I would consider taking some time away to help. So I booked a flight with the miles I'd been saving in the case of an emergency, put in for some family illness days off, and grabbed a few drink coupons for the three-hour flight home. The guy next to me, a former prison officer, on his way home from Jamaica, seemed a little envious when I pulled those coupons from my purse. 

"What are you going to have?" he asked. I told him I thought that a Bailey's Irish Cream sounded pretty good. He nodded in agreement just as I handed him my second coupon. "And what are you going to have?" So began a beautiful week of loving connections for which I remain incredibly grateful. By about 11 pm, my plane had landed and I was in my brother's car reconnecting with him as we headed to his place for my overnight stay. My sister would join us for coffee in the morning and by lunchtime, we'd be home helping care for our Dad.

Though he'd been spending a great deal of time in this chair, we actually found him enjoying lunch with three of the farmhands whom he typically runs errands for and works alongside of in the shop at the family farm. Dad was so surprised and incredibly grateful when they called him to say they'd like to treat him to a meal. When he told them he'd have his daughters there, they said no worries, that they'd be glad to bring enough for all of us. They stayed and dined with him, a seemingly small gesture that made a huge imprint on his heart, for sure. In the next five days, I'd hear him tell the story of his fall over and over again and each and every time, he'd mention that noon-time kindness of those three mechanics.

As night began to fall, we gathered to play cards and caught this breathtaking scene of our family farm in the distance out of his dining room window.

By Friday, Dad felt well enough for an outing; he was itching to show me the remodeling project that he'd been working on at the parochial grade school that my siblings and I attended all those years ago. He was beaming with pride as he showed me all of their upgrades. I especially loved seeing their handiwork in the preschool room because that's where we happened upon nine young boys playing soup kitchen, each wearing a chef hat and apron carrying soup pots in their arms and ladles in their hands. I couldn't resist engaging in this yummy scene, so I told the tiny chef nearest the door that I was so hungry and would he be so kind as to share some soup. His smile said that he'd be happy to share as he scooped his pretend creation into my hands. Before I knew it, each little boy was lined up to serve me some soup. Just as I was about to get full, the tyke who stole my heart did this: He blew on my soup before serving it to me.

In one fell swoop scoop. 
So innocent.
So thoughtful.
So lovingly beautiful.

I wanted to stay and play with those little friends all afternoon, but Dad needed to rest soon so we visited two more classrooms before heading home. 

During my week-long stay, we had a lot of read-aloud time ...  

from these two kindness books.

It was such a great time of connecting and reflecting
about life and love, 
about compassion and kindness,
about people and projects,
about family and faith.

I managed some time with Mom, too.

On Monday, we took another outing to visit two schools and have lunch out. We let Dad's wife, Flo, pick the place since she was our faithful Uber driver so off to Cranky Pat's Pizza Parlor we went. On the way in, we asked a lady coming out if the food was any good. She smiled and said, "If it isn't, let me know because I'm the owner." She was precious and we really connected with her during our brief encounter with her. Inside, we found a man seated alone at the table next to us. I'm not exactly sure how the conversation began, but he started to tell us how he'd just returned from visiting his daughter in Napa Valley and how she has lived there for fifteen years and how he recently retired from his job. 

We figured he'd eventually run out of things to tell us or that the person he was waiting for might show up, but instead he came over to our table to continue sharing his story. He said he had two hours to burn because it was during a visit to get a nail out of his tire that his mechanic had noticed a leak in his radiator. That was when he decided to walk to the pizza parlor and buy lunch for his mechanic. Isn't that the sweetest thing?

Tonight I'm feeling blessed to be back in Texas
as Dad continues to rest and restore.
The doctors told him not to work or drive for now,
so he's trying to figure out what this season
of his life is going to look like.
He's thinking once he can drive again
about maybe making visits to people
in a similar situation as his.
Maybe the elderly, maybe the ailing.
Maybe just someone who's craving a caring connection.
Empathy is an strong elixir like that;
stepping into another's shoes can do beautiful things
for both the giver and the receiver.

I'm so thankful that Dad let me come home to help even though
he's not used to be on the receiving end of kindness.

Thank you all for your positive wishes and prayers.

1 comment

  1. It was so wonderful to meet you and your parents...it was the highlight of my week!


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