I have got to quit talking to strangers. Once again my need to engage others in random conversation landed me in an awkward social situation. (Perhaps this is why my husband cringes when he sees me make eye contact with folks in an elevator.) It started out simple and to be honest it was not just me, the UPS truck driver is to blame as well….let me explain.
Last month I went to the UPS store to mail my Mother’s Day gifts. I was actually there early enough in the week to avoid the overnight charges my procrastination habit usually dictates I pay. (Sometimes I even impress myself). When I scampered into the store I noticed the UPS truck parked out front. Its driver, seated on a folding chair, was engaged in a conversation with the UPS clerk behind the counter. As I filled the required forms I jokingly asked if the driver was waiting on me, to which he replied, “of course”. Those of you who know me, know this two word response is my “go ahead” to further interact with strangers. With my forms filled and my packages in order I proceeded to the counter. As the gentleman processed my offerings I inquired about the date of delivery…I think I just wanted to hear confirmation out loud that I had indeed managed to get these gifts out on time. At this point the UPS clerk asked, “So, when is Mother’s Day? Saturday?” Yep, he said “Saturday.” To which the UPS truck driver and I both gasped. “Dude, you’d better get on it!” said the driver…”yeah, you don’t want to be late” I added, to which the clerk replied, “oh, my mother has passed…(awkward pause)…so, well…(shorter awkward pause). “”uh, man, sorry dude” said the truck driver….I stutter out my attempt at recovery, “Oh, I am so sorry.” Then for some reason, maybe to deflect from our error, I say something to the effect of, “well maybe there are others in your life who you send stuff to?”. “yeah, dude, what about your sisters” the UPS driver added, joining me in my effort to undo damage. Quickly moving to polite niceties, the UPS truck driver and I both scurried out the door.
The loss of a loved one is a difficult season in our lives. My own father passed away in may of 1999. This father’s day, I was reminded that it is not always these special days that are the hardest when we have lost a loved one. As we celebrated my husband for being a great dad, I realized I did not miss my own father. I thought of him this day and recalled so many things about him that made him a wonderful dad. But this day and all it represents is not one which brings a tear to my eye or fills my heart with sadness. Those moments come at much odder times.
I miss my dad dearly and often. I miss him when I sit on my porch in the middle of a summer rain storm, listening to the thunder and smelling the rain falling fresh on the hot pavement of our driveway. My dad liked to watch storms too, he would have enjoyed sitting with me on my porch. I miss him when I drink a good glass of ice cold sweet tea, the kind where the sugar was added to the fresh hot brew before ice was added. My dad loved sweet tea. Sometimes I miss my dad the most when my husband holds my hand. When we ride in the car, or are sitting in church, he will place his hand on mine. Strong, tan, a little wrinkled, veins visibly pulsing just below the surface, his fingers wrap around my hand effortlessly. I see my father’s hands.
My careless words to the UPS clerk renewed my awareness of the seasons in life that bring personal loss or pain. God may fill my life and heart with many blessings, yet when He calls one of those blessings away I cry out like a kid sitting in a room full of toys who protests when one is taken away. It is difficult to focus on all that remains in the room. God is sovereign, He loves us, and our “rooms” are full!