Yesterday morning I was driving down the freeway listening to the local talk radio station. I am not in the habit of being on the road at seven in the morning on a Saturday, but I was on the way to the second day of the Ladies Conference and looking forward to a wonderful day spent with friends. I was listening to “The Country Store with Trader Rick”, basically a call-in program to sell your yard sale-type items. “I’ve got a refrigerator I want to sell for $35 and my telephone number is 555-5555.” I had listened to about five minutes of this. I don’t know why. Not my normal listening fare. Then, something different happened.
“Hi, my name is Bob W_____.” Trader Rick greeted him. A slight bit of silence.
“Something terrible happened this week.” Long pause.
Then, Bob started crying. “My wife died this week in my arms. I’m in hospice.” He went on to state that he and his wife had fifty-four years of stuff that he wanted to sell.
My mind, my heart, and my spirit all felt like something had reached out and grabbed them. I couldn’t think of much else. What did this man mean? His wife had died, he was dying, and he wanted to get rid of a houseful of stuff? How sad was that? Did he not have anyone who wanted his stuff? Where was family? Why wasn’t someone else helping him do this stuff? Why wasn’t someone with this grieving and dying man?
I got to the conference site and immediately told my daughter and a couple other ladies sitting at my table. There reaction was the same. It was heart-wrenching incomprehension. I wanted to call my husband, but he was out of town and on his motorcycle so he wouldn’t be able to answer the phone anyway.
On my way home that afternoon, he called to let me know that he was home. One of the first things out of my mouth was, “I’ve got a project for you.”
I told him the story. He called Bob immediately. He told him that he wasn’t calling about his stuff; he just wanted to know if he was alright.
I got a call right back from my husband. “So, we’re taking Bob out to dinner tonight!”
We picked him up early evening. As he was walking to the door to let us in, my husband could see in the house. I asked my husband what he looked like. “A little old man.”
He asked us to have a seat and we had a small chat introducing ourselves to each other. He gave us a little rundown on his past week. He was the one who was supposed to be dying. He wife was not. While coming down the stairs last Sunday, she suffered a massive stroke and died. The funeral was the day before. He is completely and truly devastated. He mentioned again that he was in hospice and then motioned behind us and said, “I’m building my coffin right there.”
Yes, his coffin is sitting in his dining room. The box and lid are built. He is currently working on lining it. Yes, he is constructing his own coffin.
We asked where he would like to go to eat. He mentioned that he and his wife had always wanted to try out the new Marriott in town and had not had the chance. (When traveling, they always stayed at Marriott Hotels.) He asked if we could go there. Well, of course. (We didn’t even know they HAD a restaurant there!)
We had a very interesting conversation over dinner. He really isn’t that old. He’s 79, but very ill. He hasn’t been out to dinner in a very long time; nor been out at night. He has two sons. One lives locally……………. Yes, that’s what we thought, too………………. Bob talks very highly of his son. He is very proud of him. He is a school teacher and building his house. He’s very busy. Can’t come around too much……………… Yes, that’s what we thought, too…………. My goodness! His mother’s funeral was just the day before. Didn’t he think his dad might be lonely?
After dinner, we took him by our church and showed him around. My husband asked him if he would like us to pick him up for church in the morning. He said he would love to come.
As we took him home, he kept telling us how grateful he was that we “stamped out” a very lonely evening for him. He said, “I’m alright unless I start crying. Then I can’t seem to stop for forty minutes to an hour.”
He came to church. My ladies loved on him. My friends gravitated to him. Prayed for him. Talked to him. Made him feel welcome. (Thank you!)
I don’t know where this friendship will be going. I don’t know all the details of this dear man’s life. I know I don’t know the people in his life or the whys of their relationships. I am still reeling with the amazement that God allowed us to be a part of this weekend’s orchestration. I feel honored that we helped alleviate a few hours of pain for a very lonely man. God promised to direct our steps. We will follow Him.
I know this is a very sad story. It is also the very best thing that happened to me this weekend.
7 months ago