Years ago, Darrell had gone to meet a friend for a beer at a local pub. His friend's son had been killed in a car accident the night of graduation and in spite of the months that had passed the pain in his heart was like a wound that would not heal. A stranger who was sitting close enough to hear the conversation suddenly walked over to their table and ask if he could sit with them as he had a story to share. I think both men were surprised by him just sitting down uninvited.
He began to tell a story about his son and how when he was little they loved to fish and camp. Even through his teenage years they had remained very close. He told of how they had been filling out applications for college and soon his son would leave and be on his own. He told of how excited he was for the new adventure he would be taking, but, how difficult it was to let go. Then, on the last day of school how he kept hollering up the stairs for his son to hurry and get ready. When he didn't seem to be making any effort to get up, how he had stormed up the stairs all the while yelling - “Come on son, you can't miss the last day of school!” But, when he flung open the door he realized that something was dreadfully wrong. His son lay there in his bed, sweat running down his brow, unable to move and barely able to make a sound above a whisper. He didn't know what to do, he grabbed for the phone to call 911, everything seemed to be happening in slow motion. Although it appeared his wife was running up the stairs it seemed like she would never arrive. The paramedics came and whisked him up quickly, and rushed him to the hospital. He started to follow them down the stairs when something told him to go back and get his lucky nickle. Now this was no ordinary nickle. It had saved his life by deflecting a bullet while he served in Vietnam. It was a story his son had asked to be told many times.
on the other with fearful tears streaming down her cheeks. The news from the doctor would not be good. He said he felt as if he were in a dream when the doctor said his son had a brain aneurism and his only chance would be surgery. Even then there would be only a 10% chance
he would survive.
“How can this be?”
“Today is his last day of school, he is going to college this fall – how can this be?”
“ This is my baby, my only son, how can this be?”
Swallowing hard now to hold back his tears; he told of how his son pulled him down closer to him so that he could whisper in his ear:
“Dad, did you bring your lucky nickle?”
He said he couldn't believe his sons question and really, what had made him go back for it just a short while before.
“Yes, son, I have it in my pocket.”
“Dad, you must give them permission to do the surgery, it's my only chance.”
“I did the only thing I could do – I turned it over to God.”
He then told them of how he and his wife only had a brief time with their son before he was wheeled off for surgery. He said he took his lucky nickle out of his pocket and placed it in his sons hand, but, that his son refused to take it and told him to hold on to it for him for luck. Then he said the oddest thing:
“Dad, if I don't make it I'll send you a sign from heaven that I'm ok.”
bench. He said his wife commented that she had always hoped that the three of them could take this trip together. He told then that for some reason they both looked down at the same time and wouldn't you know it, sitting on the ground were 3 nickles, in Italy no less. Darrell and his friend sat in silence. Then just as suddenly as the man had joined them, he stood up, put his hand on Darrells friends shoulder and said: “You know, my friend, they are never really that far from you when they remain in your heart.” With that he was gone, almost as if he had never been there. They both turned around to see where he had gone but, he was no where to be seen.