World Traveler

World Traveler

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reader's Choice 20th Anniversary Edition

World Traveler

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.

~Seneca

The story in A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul entitled “The Window” touched my heart in an amazing way. The story speaks of two men who were sharing a room in a hospital. One man, bedridden, was on his back on the far side of the room. He was somewhat envious that the other man was on the side with the window.

The man by the window shared everything he saw with the man on the other side of the room. He elaborated and explained every detail to the point that his friend could see everything he saw. When the man on the other side of the room was eventually moved to the bed by the window he was surprised to discover that the window looked out on a blank wall.

I was devastated when my father became terminally ill. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. The last thing he asked for before he was admitted to a long-term care facility was to go on one more vacation. I talked with the doctors about the possibility and learned that it wasn’t possible. So like the man at the window who tried to encourage his friend on the other side of the room, I decided to pretend we were traveling right there in the nursing home.

The man in the story brought the outside world (the park, the people, the lake) to his friend. I decided that I could bring many famous vacations spots to my father. I got on the Internet and asked my online friends to send me pictures or postcards from their hometowns. The nicest people who I had never met began mailing me packages of pictures, cards, souvenirs and keepsakes from the festivals and other events in their hometowns. Many not only sent pictures and postcards but wrote long, descriptive letters to a dying man they had never met.

Then the oddest thing began to happen. We started getting memorabilia from places all over the world. My friends told their friends and their friends told their friends. There were days I would go to the post office and find boxes filled with exciting stuff from all over the world. My daddy became a world traveler in his nursing home room. And he didn’t even have to buy an airline ticket. My online friends knew Daddy couldn’t go out and see the world, so they sent their world to him.

I’ll never forget the trips we took, the conversations we had and the smiles on Daddy’s face as I shared all the tourist attractions with him. I received more and more stuff for weeks on end. And about the time Daddy no longer knew who he was or who I was, the packages ceased to arrive. His vacation was over, but the memories will last forever for me.

“The Window” taught me to step out and do the best I could, that life could be a joyful event. Sometimes we must use our imagination and stretch ourselves to bring joy to someone else.

The man in the story, looking at the wall, made a difference in my father’s life even after he was gone. His story touched me in a way that caused me to exercise my faith and stretch my imagination. I was able to fulfill my father’s dying request.

After Daddy died, in an attempt to heal my own grief, I would often pull out the pictures, the cards and the souvenirs and travel around the world once again.

It’s been thirteen years since my father died, but when I think of our traveling days together, I still shed a few tears of joy and hope.

~Nancy B. Gibbs

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