From Chicken Soup for the Father & Son Soul

A Grain of Sand

All God’s angels come to us disguised.

James Russell Lowell

It was another cold day in Michigan, and the last thing I wanted to do was go outside and do anything. The email on my computer was doing its best to keep my mind busy and help me stay warm; it even provided a smile every now and then.

The serenity of the moment was short-lived and quickly broken by the ringing of the phone on the desk beside me. As I picked up the phone, I noticed the caller ID. It read UNAVAILABLE. I knew this was a good chance it was my younger brother Fred calling on his cell phone.

For the first time in my life, I hoped it wasn’t my brother. It wasn’t his voice I feared; rather it was the message it might carry, a message concerning the condition of our father. So far the messages hadn’t promised much hope for his recovery.

It had been only two weeks since I had left my brother in the 80 degree, sunny weather of Florida. I had to make my way back home to my family and to my job. Fred had taken time away from his business to try to help. The job Fred stayed to do was one of the most important of his life. He stayed to try to help heal our father and, equally important, to be there for our mom, and help to ensure that Dad received the best care they could give him while he was in the hospital.

The doctors kept telling us Dad’s chances for recovery weren’t very high, and only two weeks earlier his kidneys had begun to shut down, fluid filled one lung, and the other had collapsed.

Our father never gave in, nor did his family. My brother tirelessly led the charge, getting up to the hospital every day at 6 AM to meet with the doctors, spending most of the day there with Dad and Mom, then returning at night to be with Dad as visiting hours ended.

I answered the phone, saying, “Hey, Fred!” I received no answer, and asked, “Fred, is that you?” With a deep breath, he replied a simple, “Yeah—it’s me.”

Oh, dear God! I said to myself. I waited a moment before asking, “Is Dad all right? Fred, is Dad all right?”

“Yeah, Bill.” He took another deep breath. “Dad’s all right!”

“Are you all right?” I asked.

“I am okay,” he said.

As Fred regained his composure, he said, “You’re not going to believe this.” And Fred went on to tell a story that explained his deep breathing. . . . But it was a story I did believe!

A few weeks prior to this, Dad couldn’t even sit up on his own. He was on the verge of death. But today it was different.

“When I got to Dad’s room, there he was, sitting on the edge of his hospital bed, swinging his feet and acting like a happy little kid. Bill, I am not kidding! Dad was giggling like a little boy who was just given a new puppy!”

“Why?” I asked, somewhat confused.

“Dad told me he said he saw God today. God came into his room and told him he was going to be all right! Dad was in his room, and a nurse was checking his signs, when all of a sudden there was a bright light. He saw the light coming down the hall, then it came into his room. The light filled the room. Dad said it made him feel peace, like nothing he had ever felt. God spoke to Dad, telling him he would get better.”

“Can I talk to him?”

Dad got on the phone. “Hi, Bill!”

“Wow, Dad, you sound great!” I said. “Tell me what happened today.”

He repeated the story about the light, but added a bit to the account about a lady who had come into his room. She took him by the hand and led him out of his room to another place. Dad said, “I think we went down into the basement, but I am not sure. When we got to the room, God was there and the beauty of his light filled the room. There was every color of the rainbow and some colors I have never seen. God never spoke in voice,” he explained, “but I could hear every word in his thoughts.”

Dad said that God picked up a grain of sand and showed it to him, telling how each grain of sand was a moment of his life; every action, every event he had done in his life was another grain of sand, and each grain led to the next grain. God told of both the good and the bad things of his life, not leaving out one detail. When God finished reviewing my father’s life, God asked Dad to look down, showing him that he was standing on a pile of sand. God explained how each action had led him to where he was right now. God told my father he had done all he needed to do in life and then told him he would get better!

Dad said the next thing he knew, the lady who had taken him to the room again took his hand and led him back up to his hospital room. He said, “I could tell she was very beautiful, but I couldn’t see her face.”

As the lady was about to leave him, she turned toward him for a moment, and in that moment he saw more beauty in her face than he had ever seen in his life.

“Dad, do you think she was an angel?” I asked.

“I didn’t see any wings, but I can tell you, her face carried all the beauty of the world, and her eyes reflected all the beauty of heaven.

“Bill, my whole life I have believed in God, but not seeing, I sometimes have doubts. But after today, if God calls me home tomorrow it will be fine. I am not afraid. I know he is always with me and has a plan.”

The day my father talked to God was a turning point on his trip back home to all of us. Two weeks later he was given an eightieth-birthday party by his many doctors and nurses. A few weeks after that, he came home again; home to add a few more grains of sand to the many sand castles of our lives.

William Garvey

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