I’ve known this past week what the assignment would be for this week. I want to do it! I want to participate in the link up party Cindy is having. Yet I also realize that it will be painful as I tell my story and do I want to go there? Or do I push it under the rug and forget the past and the memories. No! my prayer for the last five years is “God I refuse to be dysfunctional, I want to be whole” So here goes.
Graduation was over…the last of four children graduating from high school, the end of childhood for them, the beginning of a new move into our new life. Ministry had been a dream for quite a few years, Steve and I were elders in our church, we ministered in lots of different areas, we had taken teams to Mexico for years to minister in the streets of Tijuana, and Bible College was the next step in where we felt God was leading.
We started our trip by going to Broken Arrow to visit Rhema Bible College, where we planned to enroll in the fall. We took the tour with a group of about ten other students who were planning to enroll, we were the oldest with Steve being 57 and I was 49 soon to be 50. We were so excited and talked of nothing else on our trip down to Alabama where we visited with our friend Bill as we picked up a shaved ice trailer to haul back to California. We started back that morning, Steve driving as he usually did with me occasionally giving him a break. Steve had driven a truck since he was 14 years old, this was second nature to him making long hauls. Around noon we stopped and ate lunch and got fuel and then got back on the road, a little while later Steve mentioned that he had heartburn and maybe an ice cream would settle that and a package of Tums. He got into the passenger seat and asked me to drive, and an hour or so later he got in the back seat of the pickup which we always kept made into a bed when we traveled, so he could rest.
Somewhere around Fort Smith Ark, he began to tell me he really wasn’t feeling good, I told him to keep resting that I could drive for quite a while. I began to pray seriously for whatever it was that was making him sick. Just before we got to Seminole, OK on Interstate 40, he told me he thought he might need to go to a hospital. Fear began to set in, I started looking for the sign that indicated there was a hospital at an upcoming exit. I got off at the exit for Seminole and pulled into a truck stop to ask for directions to the nearest hospital, and this subconscious thought that maybe he I should buy aspirin, they didn’t carry any. I wasn’t aware of anyone listening to our conversation and the girl pointed south and said the hospital was about six or seven miles down the road in town. I got back on the road and was playing soothing worship music on the CD, praying and asking God for help. I noticed this old red pickup behind me blinking its lights, I thought he wanted to pass me, but then it pulled up beside me and passed, when it got in front of me it started to blink its tail lights and I said to Steve “I think it might be the girl from the truck stop and she wants me to follow her” so I pulled in behind the pickup and was led directly to the hospital.
It was hot in Seminole as we pulled into the parking lot of the hospital. I found a parking spot and got out and opened the back door where Steve was sitting up. He asked me to help him put his shoes on, and said “I’m gonna feel stupid when I go in here and they say there’s nothing wrong with me.” Just then a man came up to us pushing a wheel chair and started helping Steve out of the pickup. As he stepped out into the heat I felt him began to sag and we struggled to get him into the wheel chair. I assumed he had fainted because of being sick and the heat, we rushed him into the waiting room and a nurse took Steve straight back. The man who had helped me get Steve into the wheel chair handed me a piece of paper with his phone number on it and said he was a retired fireman and had been standing in the back of the truck stop and overheard me ask where the hospital was and said he got to thinking about it after he saw us pull out and thought he should show us where the hospital was, he was the man in the red truck. He left while I was filling out paperwork and I didn’t see him again.
I was beginning to get worried and overwhelmed being in a strange town and at the hospital, while I was filling out paperwork, I get to thinking “I need someone to pray with me” I ask out loud “is there anyone here who will pray with me? Five nurses and office attendants stop what they are doing and joined hands with me. I wait for someone to start praying but they are all silent. I think to myself, “well I guess you are going to have to lead the prayer yourself, so I start in, and they are all are in agreement with me.
A lady that I really didn’t know what her job was other than she seemed to be a hostess took me into a waiting room and offered me water and made me comfortable and asked if I needed to make any phone calls. I kept asking had Steve come to from fainting, by now I’m beginning to think we may be here for a few days, and start thinking I need to call home and tell the kids and call our church and ask for prayer. I talk to Pastor Eddie and advise him of what’s going on, and then call my daughter Stephanie and tell her to get a hold of the kids and let them know what is going on and to be praying. The lady comes back in and has me wait in the hallway as the doctor is coming out to talk to me. I stand there and watch him walk towards me. It is one of those “Hollywood moments you see on TV” as he comes to me and takes my hands, I know…but I say NO! NO! He’s not! But the doctor says yes, we did everything we could but he had a massive heart attack and he was gone. I shift into automatic, thinking rationally about what has to be done, in shock! I call my pastor back and tell him what has happened, he can’t say much, I ask him to have someone go to my house to be with the kids when they hear the news. I call my son in law Jeremy and tell him so he can break the news to Stephanie. I ask the lady what do I do now? She says I can go in and see Steve, I walk in and sit down beside him and take his hands, his large hands that I’ve always loved, calloused hands from years of hard work. He is gone, I kiss his cheek, I want to be alone with him, but no one leaves me alone and I don’t want to make a scene and demand they all leave me to be with him.
I was at the hospital a total of four hours from when I got there. Plans had been made to ship Steve’s body home. The nice lady offered to take me home with her and spend the night, but why? I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep, and as the poem goes… Miles to go before I sleep. So I got in the pickup and headed back to I-40, this time alone. I don’t remember driving thru Oklahoma City, or Amarillo, Texas both big cities and this was before I had a GPS, the phone calls coming in from California, people calling in shock who had just heard the news. Plans were being made for me to fly from Albuquerque to California but I just kept driving and when I got to Albuquerque it was seven in the morning and a flight out wasn’t until three in the afternoon, so I kept driving thinking I would be in Arizona by that time. My boys got in their pickup with $100 that someone stuck in their hand, driving towards Mom, to meet her, to escort her home. We met outside Williams, Arizona and I got in the pickup with Steven and Jonathan took my truck. They told me as I got off the highway and came around the curve of the off ramp where they were parked, they were still looking for their Dad, and when they saw me alone they knew it was true. Dad was gone.
I want to talk about angels, people who helped me in my journey.
The lady at the hospital who although I didn’t know her name offered to bring me home with her and let me stay with her. Thank you! For your kindness and being an angel.
The nurses who stopped what they were doing to pray with me. Thank you for being an angel that day.
The man who led me to the hospital in his red truck: I found the phone number a week or so later and called him. I forget his name now, I have it written down someplace. But he told me this story.
He had to leave and go to work, but that night he told his wife what had happened and she told him “Oh honey, God used you as an angel today, he was a little uncomfortable with that, but on Sunday he went to church and the pastor of his Assembly of God church got up and begin to tell a story of a woman from California whose husband had died the past week and how God had used someone from Seminole to be an angel and was kind enough to lead her to the hospital. Her pastor in California had called him and asked him to go to the hospital in Seminole and be with her while she was there. He had gone to the hospital, but the lady was already gone, but he asked the church to be praying for this lady and her family. My angel said He realized then that God had used him to be an angel. Now I ask you this: What are the odds that my pastor would happen to call the same church that this man went to, and that his pastor would tell this story to the congregation, and that I would find his phone number and call him and hear this story repeated? I have to believe that God wanted me to know that, although he had called Steve home, he never left me alone, that he had people stationed along the way to be angels for me and that he watched over me and got me home.
The other angels in this story were my Pastor Eddie Summers and my church family at Grace Assembly of God. These people rallied around me, gave over $8,000.00 to pay for having Steve’s body to be shipped home and buried. They gave to me numerous times in the coming year to be an angel of comfort as the Bible speaks of caring for orphans and widows. Thank you church for being an angel to me!
There is much more to this story and I will tell it in bits and pieces. But my life changed that day. Of course it did, but not in the direct sense you are thinking. I became more compassionate, more giving, more loving. Why? Because people who didn’t know me, were these things to me in my time of need. The scripture I quoted at the beginning has become my life motto:
To give the same comfort to others that God has shown me!
Blessings and comfort to you all,
I’m linking to Cindy’s I Owe it all to Him
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