I have been enjoying submarine week on the Military Channel and I hope those of you who are “Brothers of the Fin” can say the same.
This post is a little different from my normal so if the only reason you come here each day is for boat stories, please feel free to take the day off. I will be back tomorrow with more.
Today was one of those events you often hear about but almost never actually become a part of. In late June, our lives were severely disrupted and it resulted in a wild swing in the way we live. When something like that happens, you have to rely on your faith to keep your spirits from sinking down to test depth. I have seen others that life dealt a hard blow to and the actual depth is actually a lot closer to crush depth (or beyond).
My wife and I had just left a meeting where some folks we know were sharing some stories about their lives. We drove to a nearby restaurant and on the way there talked about how some people’s lives were a lot worse off than ours. You know how sometimes you say stuff like that just because it seems like the right thing to say under the circumstances? You really want the words to mean what they are supposed to but somehow they still come out kind of hollow.
We got to the restaurant (one of those buffet places) and it seemed fairly empty. So we got our table and our drinks and I did a quick run on some of my favorite comfort food. I was looking down at my plate anticipating that first bite of food when a commotion started that always kind of puts me in a bad mood. Kids. Lots of them. Five altogether with only the Dad present. As they approached the table RIGHT NEXT TO OURS, I thought to myself, “Really God… today???” The waitress was bustling about trying to get the tables put together and a high chair. The place was three-quarters empty and she had to put them right next to our table??????
It was about that time that I determined that I would at least not be the grump my wife accuses me of being when I looked over at them for the very first. You can imagine the shame that filled me as I realized that this young Dad (that’s what four of them called him) was trying his best to get his five special needs children settled in.
He was a well dressed young man and the kids were too. Two of the kids talked about Mom having a day to herself and how glad they were that she could have some quiet time. The oldest boy had one arm and a small stump where the other should be. He ended up doing most of the fetching and feeding for the youngest daughter in the high chair who only had two tiny little stumps where arms should be.
The next youngest girl also only had one arm but that one had a severely abrupt “flipper” at the end. She seemed quite skilled at using it to move her utensils as needed and she seemed pretty content with the food she had selected using her Father’s hands. One other boy had a single stump for an arm and he looked generally unhappy about something. It did not affect his appetite however as he maneuvered his plate with his remaining arm and a spoon cradled in his modified “hand”.
The last little boy had both arms but it was very obvious that his challenges, although not visible, were probably just as daunting.
Dad helped each child gather their food (except for the last boy – Alex – who went with my wife after she offered her help). Alex thanked her and after selecting his favorite foods said to her with an angelic smile “I’m really enjoying this”. Debbie told she him that she was too.
The family all bowed their heads and prayed before they ate. I bowed my heart. I am fairly certain the restaurant did not have any Humble Pie today (apparently my favorite brand these days) but I probably couldn’t have eaten it anyways. The words I had so flippantly said in the car on the way to the restaurant came rushing back to me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am for the gift I received today.
Through the whole meal, the kids were laughing and smiling (except for Mr. Cranky on the end) and were really well-behaved. The only slight exception was one little episode with Alex persistently wanting to raise his glass to “Cheer” everyone which seemed to annoy his older sister. I am not sure if it was because she was unable to raise her glass or she just wanted her little brother to stop making a spectacle of himself in public. You know how older sisters can be sometimes.
I wanted to help so badly but the Dad had a very good handle on things. I was firmly convinced that God was giving all the help they needed for that moment anyway. Frankly, I was the one who really felt like I had the disability. We said goodbye and got some really nice smiles in return. As we were driving away, it struck me that God has an interesting way of helping us put our personal issues in perspective. If you have any prayers in you, please take a moment to thank God and ask for a blessing for this little family. I know I have.