Kallio Memorial Service - Snippet

Our Wedding Day - July 13, 1985

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Father, A Son and a Couple of Nickles

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.
The stranger stopped for a moment and took a few deep breaths and a long swig of his beer. Darrell and his friend were listening so intently that they had not realized that their own beers had gotten warm. They ordered another round and the stranger, who seemed quiet exhausted now, began again.
Once he and his wife arrived at the hospital an attendant quickly brought them to their sons room. It felt as though they were doing nothing to help their son, and yet, there were doctors, nurses and technicians running in and out of the room. “Oh my God, please help my son!” He told of how he stood on one side of the bed holding his hand and his wife
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.”
A few more tears ran down the strangers face as he looked at them and said: “How do you choose the fate of your own child when the odds are 10 in a 100 that he'll survive?” He paused for a long time before he was able to continue and then he said;
“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.”
“The funeral for my son was sad”, he said.
“The church was filled to capacity with his family and friends.”
“But, I just could not understand why God would take my beautiful
He said that when all the people had left for home that night he went into his sons room. He had not been able to bring himself to go in since the day he was taken to the hospital. He told of how the pain in his heart had brought him to his knees and how he cried out: “God why? Why?” While there on his knees, suddenly a sense of peace seemed to wash his soul and that's when he felt it. Something was beginning to dig into his right knee. As he reached down to find what it was he discovered it was a nickle. At first he said he didn't really think about it, but, as he pushed himself up from the bed - huh, another nickle? Without thinking he picked it up and put it in his pocket, but, as he turned out the light and walked into the hall something shiny caught his eye. Yes, he said, another nickle. He said, as his sons last words came back to him, that he looked up towards heaven and said: “Thank you son for letting me know you're ok.”
Darrell and his friend just sat there in amazement at the strangers story. He said that every so often he will be talking with someone reminiscing about a special memory involving his son and by golly if a couple nickles won't show up that day. He told that once when he and his wife were on vacation in Italy, they were taking a break sitting on a park
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.
The guys finished up their beers and went out to their vehicles. A strange thing happened when Darrell opened the door to the truck, you may have guessed. Laying on the seat were two nickles. Darrell said it gave him the chills.
I will never forget Darrell telling me this story. It was as if he were mesmerized by it and you could have heard a pin drop in our home as I listened. I've thought of that story many times over the last 3 months since
Darrell died.
I hope you will forgive my terrible punctuation as I told this story. And I hope I've told it as well as it was told to me.
So, next time you come across a couple nickles in an unexpected place, I hope you'll remember this story and know that every thing's ok. I know I will.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day!

Darrell and I were never much for making a big “to-do” over Valentines Day. Oh yes we would exchange a card and once in a blue moon a small token of some sort. We were pretty much sweethearts 365 days a year, so an actual day seemed rather insignificant in the scheme of things.
I was always a little envious of some of my friends whose husbands would send big beautiful bouquets of roses; and in the early years of our marriage it would kind of hurt my feelings. Once I made a remark about it to him, and his response was: “Flowers die, I'd rather give you something like a plant.” A plant! Come on, how romantic is a philodendron? I always thought that was pretty lame and just an excuse not to buy flowers. The one thing that Darrell would do, and that I could count on for Valentines Day every year, was a big banner made from butcher's paper, with his rendition of a stick man. I would be greeted in the morning with the banner hanging in the kitchen, the stick man, drawn to represent his self portrait, would have long arms stretched out to either side of his skinny stick body and a note underneath wishing me a Happy Valentines Day. Above the stick mans head would be a word cloud with the words: “I love you more!”

Looking back now those Valentine Days with no flowers, candy or jewelry seems unimportant, because to tell you the truth the only gift I recall was that he took time to make my Valentine banner.

We just never seemed to need “a day” to express our love for one another. He made every day a Valentines Day in the way that he always treated me with love, respect and kindness. In reality it's the things we did for each other every day that really mattered. Like when he would say:
“Honey, you've worked hard all day, instead of cooking dinner, why don't I just run and get Chinese?” Or, filling up my coffee cup and bringing it to me, without me asking him to. Or, covering me with a blanket when I fell asleep on the couch. Or, that unexpected hug – you know the kind, the one where you can feel the love coming through his arms. And, best of all, running into the house from outside because he could hear “our song” playing on the radio, just so we could dance to it.

So to all of you out there in cyberspace, I hope that you have someone in your life who makes every day you share feel like Valentines Day, the way that I did.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Oh, woe is me.....

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
You will revive me:
and Your right hand will save me
Psalm 138:7

It seems that this week has been so full of “grief bursts” that my eyes just ache from all the tears. I keep thinking I should be doing much better than I am after two months, but this week has felt like November 29th over and over again. I know it's going to sound strange or weird, but several times this week, during my cry fests, that I could feel Darrell reaching out to me or his hands heavy on my shoulders. I know that is wishful thinking, but the sensation feels very real and only seems to make my longing worse. I wonder at times if I'm really loosing it. My attempt at organizing is a joke and all I have done is made a mess in just about every room. I can't seem to get up the gumption to finish any of it and just walk around it or close the door so I don't have to look at it. I hate to admit it but my vacuum has been sitting outside my office door for 2 weeks now. I feel like a pathetic mess! Now I understand why widows of years gone by wore a veil all the time.
I received a bag full of old photographs from the 1800's and also some letters written in German from the late 1880's. It was very exciting to study them and see that one was written by my great great grandmother. It's possibly one of the best genealogical treasures that our family has. When I discovered the signature my first thought was to share it with Darrell, but as I headed for the stairs I remembered I'm alone and he's not here. It just doesn't seem to soak in that he's not there and won't be.

I honestly can say I don't know what I would do without my faith. Sometimes I feel a little guilty occupying so much of God's time with my sorrow. I have some good chat's with Him at night, I'm sure He thinks he's got a crazy believer down here, because I keep asking him to tell Darrell this or tell Darrell that. It seems "He" loves me any way.
In my prayers I ask for peace.
And I hear a quiet voice
whisper to my heart that all is well.

In my prayers I ask for forgiveness.
And I hear a quiet voice
whisper to my heart that I am
forgiven because I have accepted
Jesus Christ as my Savior.

In my prayers I ask for strength.
And I hear a quiet voice
whisper to my heart that He will
carry me through my trouble.
and will never leave me.

In my prayers I thank him
for my family and friends.
And ask him to protect them and
Keep them safe from harm.
And I hear a quiet voice
Whisper to my heart that He
will surround them with
unconditional love.

And when I cannot sleep I
pray to him to hold me through
the night and help me to rest.
And I hear a quiet voice
whisper to my heart,
I am here my child,
I am here with you tonight,
and all the days of your life.

The tears of my broken heart are
wiped away from my eyes
and sweet slumber comes in the
glow of His light.

And when morning once again arrives,
I thank Him for staying with me
through the long night.
And a quiet voice whispers
to my heart,
I love you child, I will never abandon you.

And I say: Thank you God for
all you have given me. I love you
too and I will always be your
faithful servant.