Excuse me, I believe this is yours
One of the earliest memories I have from my childhood is of my Mother and I in a grocery store, Safeway at Admiral and Pittsburg. The man in front of us in the check-out line dropped several dollar bills when he pulled his hand from his pants pocket. I saw him drop the money so I picked it (the money) up and tapped him on his hip, which was about eye level for me at that time. I said “excuse me, I think this is yours. The man thanked me and gave me .50 cents which was quite a bit of money to me at the time. I believe honesty is usually the best policy.
Mom was holding my sister Wanda’s left hand to keep it from flailing about. Mom asked me to hold Wanda’s right hand to keep it from banging about too. My sister was dying of cancer. I held Wanda’s hand until she had passed, then left the hospital room. After helping Mom make the arrangements Wanda, funeral home etc. I went home.
Once at home I turned on the television as much for the noise as any other reason. The evening news was just beginning. The top story of the day, March 31st, was about Oral Roberts.
For those who don’t know the story or have forgotten, here is a brief overview. Oral had locked himself in his prayer tower and had said publicly that if he did not receive 6 million dollars by March 31st, to save his school and ministry that God was going to call him home. Luckily for Oral there was a man in Florida with more money than brains, he donated the entire 6 million to Oral. As you may have guessed, I’m not a big Oral Roberts fan. I believed there could not be a God!
I’m standing in the ICU unit at Hillcrest Medical Center. I’ve never felt so alone in my entire life even though my sisters and brother and their spouses were all present. My Mother is lying on the bed in a coma. Her vital signs are dropping and the nurse in charge needs some answers from me. My Mother had a living will filed with the hospital. A living will designates a person to make life and death decisions for you if you are not capable, Mom asked me to be the “one” even though I’m the youngest of my siblings. I asked the nurse to speak to a doctor but none were available at that moment. So, I asked the nurse what options I had. The nurse said that other than putting my Mother on life support or taking extraordinary measures there were no options. I had discussed this scenario at length with my Mother when I signed the living will and she did not want to be put on life support. I made my decision, no life support or extraordinary measures to prolong life. I hope it was the right decision. I believe some members of my family still harbor some ill feelings toward me regarding that decision.
Until my daughter was born almost six years ago, I thought life was about possessions. How much “stuff” can you accumulate? But, the moment I looked into her eyes and held her tiny body close to mine I knew-knew two things. Life was not about possessions, because we really don’t own anything. It’s all on loan to us. And I believed there must be a higher power at work here. For how could I be worthy of the feelings I had the first time I held my daughter (and still get them when I hold her now). I’ve done a lot of things in my life that I’m not very proud of, but, they are still part of me. I believed in God. I had not found God, I dislike that cliché he was never lost.
I’m recalling these events as I sit in my garage smoking a cigarette trying to make sense of life and it’s meaning when I have what alcoholics call “a moment of clarity” (epiphany for those of you who like fancy words). I believe that our life is a package. It contains all our deeds and misdeeds, experiences both pleasurable and terrible. I hope life is more than memories that fade and die to be lost forever.
So, when I transition from this world to the next and I face the divine I can hand the package that was this life to them and say “excuse me, I think this is yours and thank you”!
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