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So Aware

Five guys, three Frisbees and I heard him shout “Frisbees everywhere!” 

His tone was joyful, as if he had said something like “I won a million dollars in the lottery!”

Watching the fellows play I quickly deduced he was the leader.  He would encourage and offer bits of advice like “You have to be so aware of your surroundings that you see everything.” 

Which got me thinking about that see everything part, what are you looking for? I had a conversation with a friend once who felt that if God exists he would prove himself consequently he was waiting for this to happen. On the other hand I know people who look and can see nothing but proof of God. It’s an odd perplexing thing, believers see small nuances and huge proclamations of God in their life and searchers are waiting for proof. I heard a faithful person say I believe so I see, and I guess the opposite holds true there are people who want to see so that they can believe.

One evening during the early days of my Dad’s battle with pancreatic cancer I sat outside on a hospital bench.  I talked to my mentor on the phone she told me to “Look for gifts along the way.”

She prompted me to be sensitive to the blessings God would shower upon us during this difficult time and she was correct. We experienced one gift after another.  During the nine days that Dad was in the hospital he connected with people in a deep and meaningful way. I watched him share his expertise and give advice to a young nurse’s aide purchasing an RV. He grinned as he told me how he encouraged a nurse who was having a crisis to hide in his bathroom and make personal phone calls, while he covered for her.  

There was a quiet, polite custodian who cleaned his room daily. Dad started to talk to this man and one day stopped him and asked “Tell me, how are you really?”

“It sucks” he said.

“Ask me how I am” my Dad replied and when he did Dad answered “It sucks.”

Turns out this man suffered from chronic back pain, injuries from boxing as a young man. He was raised in poverty and boxed for the money to help his family. His wife had died young and he’d raised his daughter alone, never remarried.  My Dad nick named him “Suck” and this man told my father that he was truly his friend.

I remember his nurse Ron who took Dad on his first walk showing him different views from the windows and explaining the history and expansion of the hospital. We had some snafu’s getting the pain medication in preparation to take Dad home and Ron worked hard to get us what we needed for the plane trip. This was no small feat because the hospital pharmacy was closed on the weekend and I was getting the runaround from the local pharmacy.

While Dad was in the hospital I had a lengthy conversation with my friends Rick and Christine. They had brought Christine's Mom home to live with them during her last chapter fighting pancreatic cancer. They shared their experience and urged me to "Bring him home Donna, bring your Dad back to Missouri."

Bringing my parents to Missouri was hectic, we crammed  two large suitcases with as many of their belongings possible for an indefinite stay. We closed up their RV. Got the dog an airline approved crate and vet papers. We picked Dad up from the hospital and drove straight to the Los Angeles Airport. Upon check in we found out that when the temperature dips below a certain threshold you must have the vet sign a document stating that your dog is cold weather acclimated. Nobody had told me this earlier in the week when I made arrangements for the dog to travel. While Dad was in the hospital which was a couple hours from their home, Mom and I had stayed in a hotel and we had left their dog Louie in the care of their neighbors Mike and Yvonne. Sunday morning at 4:30am they were awakened by a frantic woman (me) spitting out in rapid fire "They won't take the dog!"

Yvonne didn't even pause, she said they would watch the dog until we could figure out how to get him and they would be there at the airport in about three hours. This meant that I would not be able to fly with my folks. That morning we had one mix up after another and finally my parents were on their way to St Louis where my sister and daughter would meet them at the airport. Mike and Yvonne came,  took the dog and a while later I was on a flight to St. Louis via Chicago. Now I understand that this flight rearrangement too was a gift. From LA to Chicago I sat looking out the window crying silent tears running down my face. I was able to process and feel all the sorrow of the last 17 days. When I arrived in St. Louis I was ready to walk beside with my parents along our journey.

My Pastor often says God is not concerned about our comfort but our character. I watched my Dad grow, it seemed that God was fine tuning his character and sprinkled some glitter at the end, because my Dad’s spirit sparkled.  The day we got the news that the surgery we had hoped for would not be a possibility, a nurse wrapped her arms around him and they sobbed, it was a gut wrenching terrible time, yet it was filled with gifts.  Would I have noticed on my own without the prompting to look for the gifts?

When I think about being so aware that you see everything, I want to see everything of God. It’s like looking for the gifts, I never doubted I looked. Same thing with seeking God, I know he is there. “You have to be so aware of your surroundings that you see everything”- what are you looking for?

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." ~ Jeremiah 29:13