27: On the Wings of Faith

27: On the Wings of Faith

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Christmas

On the Wings of Faith

Faith and prayer are the vitamins of the soul; man cannot live in health without them.

~Mahalia Jackson

On a crisp, autumn afternoon in October 2008 I was standing in the kitchen with my wife, Karen, while she cooked dinner. I was describing the day’s events when I heard the sound of a horn repeatedly honking at my mother’s house next door.

My heart skipped a couple of beats and a sickening wave of terror came over me, as the car horn kept going off. Something was wrong! I had recently taught my elderly mother that if she was in distress she should press the alarm button on her car’s key fob.

“Mother must be in trouble!” I said, as I dashed out the door.

I could see my mother seated behind the steering wheel of her white Mercury in the driveway. I was running as hard as I could to get to her, watching in horror and disbelief as she drove away from me. She sped off between the two live oak trees and down the hill toward the lake behind the house.

“Hit the brake!” I yelled.

I watched in horror as her vehicle got closer to the water. All of a sudden, the vehicle took a hard left, narrowly missing the small wooden deck and staying on dry ground. Mother then kept driving along the side of the lake.

I finally reached the car and banged my hand on the trunk. Mother hit the brake and I motioned for her to lower the window.

“Mother, what are you doing?” I blurted out.

“What’s wrong with you, Jim?” she calmly replied.

“Where are you going and why are you honking your horn?”

Mother gave me a warm, sweet smile and stated, “I’m chasing those geese back to the lake where they belong. They’re pooping on my driveway!”

I stood there stunned, totally out of breath. My heart was pounding. I slowly turned and began the walk back to the house to tell Karen that Mother had just been on a wild goose chase!

Later that evening, I spoke on the phone with my sister Debbie, and she laughed so hard she cried when I told her what Mother had done. Then, a few days later, when I talked with Debbie again she shared with me that she and her husband, Clay, had decided that a large ornamental goose would be the perfect Christmas present for Mother, in honor of her goose antics.

Tragically, in November, my fifty-two-year-old sister broke her ankle when she stepped off a curb the wrong way. She developed a blood clot and she passed away on Sunday, November 23rd. It all happened so suddenly, and it changed our family forever.

When Clay went to pick up Debbie’s personal items from her office he found that she had asked her co-worker, Tamara, to be on the lookout for the biggest ornamental goose she could find. Tamara had bought a goose on the same day Debbie died. She had intended to surprise Debbie with it when she came back to work on Monday morning, but that was never to be.

At Christmastime, Clay and his sons Andy and Ben presented Mother with the goose as a gift from Debbie, Clay, and the boys. It started out as a gift with one meaning, but it ended up having a deeper purpose — reminding us of all the beautiful memories we had shared over the years.

“I hope you keep the goose and every time you look at it you think of Debbie,” Clay said.

Clay reminded Mother that geese share the same attribute as he and Debbie’s marriage had — they mate for life unless one of them is killed or dies.

Mother and I have gotten in the habit of walking down to the lake and looking for the geese every autumn. This year, as we walked down to the lake and watched for the geese to swoop down again, we could feel fall in the air. The migrating geese would be coming soon.

We stood at the lake, each of us thinking of Debbie. I was wishing there was a way for her to still be with us — some kind of sign that she was here and watching over us.

“Look, Jim!” Mother said.

I looked up to see a flock of geese flying above us in V- formation. I was speechless as they descended and glided effortlessly across the lake. My prayers had been answered.

Today that Canada Goose stands in Mother’s den to remind us of Debbie’s love for each of us, and the day the geese came to visit when we needed them most.

~Jim Luke

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