After breakfast yesterday my daughter cried out from her room, “Dad, [the boy] is throwing up!” I ran upstairs and, sure enough, my poor son was heaving into his trashcan. He spent the next 40 minutes or so in the downstairs bathroom while my wife and daughter finished getting ready for the day. The sounds were not pleasant. Don’t worry, this post is not about that.
His sudden illness 1 caused me a bit of consternation. He’s perfectly capable of minding himself when I’m out at work, even when he’s sick, but the violence of his symptoms made me uneasy about leaving him, at least until he settled down some. My difficulty was that I happened to be scheduled as the chapel speaker at Riverview Estates, which I hate to miss. Seeing him in such distress, however, I quickly came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to leave him on his own.
Now we get to what this post is actually about.
It’s about relationships.
Over my twelve years here I have been privileged to form some wonderful friendships with the people at Riverview. Yesterday, they showed how much of a blessing they are to me.
First, I texted the chaplain and apologized that I wouldn’t be able to lead chapel that day, and explained why. She texted back that she was on the road and might not be able to make it herself, but she would try.
Next, I texted the Riverview’s director and gave her both my apologies and the chaplain’s uncertain prospects of arriving in time. She will occasionally step in when a pastor goes AWOL 2 so I knew folks would be in capable hands either way.
With that done, I checked on my son again and then hopped in the shower. I was out, dressed, and already sitting down to translate a Scripture passage when I noticed I’d gotten a call from the receptionist at the home wondering where I was. This freaked me out a bit, so I called back immediately to apologize for the snafu I had caused. When I spoke “Hello” into my receiver, however, I quickly discovered I hadn’t needed to worry. Before I could even announce myself the receptionist chimed in, “Don’t worry Wes, I’ve already figured out where you were, how is your son?”
So, how is this about relationships?
Well, first, the two key people to whom I needed to announce my enforced absence I could contact directly. This entire exchange would have taken on a different scenario had I not been able to do so. Imagine if I had been forced to leave a message on their office voicemail, or sent them an email, instead of texting them. The simple fact that these two people trust me enough to allow me to push information to them 3 allowed for tens of minutes to adjust to a new reality, rather than tens of seconds. In fact, had I been forced to leave messages on the office voicemail I probably would have gone to chapel – and not really been present.
Second, the receptionist, even though we don’t have a “texting close” 4 friendship are on very friendly terms. I love to talk with her about her grandkids, her summer trailer, and just her perspective in general. Likewise, she’s always shown interest in the happenings of my life. So, when I didn’t show up by the time I normally do, she made sure to personally reach out to me. When the chaplain informed her of where I was before I could return the call she quickly switched from “reminder mode” to being concerned for my family. It’s little things like this which mean so much to me.
After the chapel service I even got some texts back. One of the chaplain, informing me that she had indeed arrived in time to fill in for me. Another was from one of our Church members who happens to be a resident at Riverview – she wanted to make sure my son was all right.
In fact, my son is mostly fine. By the time I poured him a glass of ginger ale this morning I discovered him eating some peanut butter crackers. When he noticed the strange look I was giving him he said, “What? I’m hungry.”
“Drink your ginger ale,” was all I could manage in terms of a comeback. It was a great moment, made possible through the wonder of relationships.
- Cinnamon muffins do not look appetizing the second time through. ↩
- I have been AWOL exactly once in my twelve years, in case you were wondering. I remembered where I was supposed to be ten minutes after chapel started and sprinted over to the home in time to share the mediation. I’m fairly certain I brushed my teeth. ↩
- The director regrets this a tiny bit, however. Myself and some other mischievous board members try to see how long it will take to get her to look at her phone and get her to laugh at board meetings. The record was 6 minutes, she stopped bringing her phone to the meetings. ↩
- Is that a thing? It feels like it should be a thing. ↩