My father’s surgery went well and he will remain in the hospital for the next while as he recovers. God has answered our prayers as only He can . . . yet again. Alleluia!
I woke up Monday morning late, maybe a little after ten thirty, and walked to the sink room to splash some cold water on my face as I do most mornings to help me pull out of the grogginess and gain my bearings for the day. I couldn’t have been awake and out of bed for more than a minute when I reached the sink and turned the cold water knob full circle. Looking up I saw Mrs. Garner shuffle to the doorway and peer in at my reflection in the mirror. She asked me in no strange or unfamiliar tone, “Have you heard the news about your father?”
. . . Yah, that’s what I thought too. I knew something had happened, right away (obviously), with my dad (least person I would expect to hear such news about), back in the States (now being in Africa doesn’t seem so appealing anymore). This felt like news that some one, some many, knew of; something I could tell Sydney had expected me to have heard already through someone else before she got to our house (why did I take a Tylenol PM the night before so I could sleep in longer?). I bet if I would have gotten up at my normal time, I would have heard it all before and not when I am still half asleep and splashing faucet water all over my face. The Garners received the church prayer request e-mail from Judy Huffman that morning and on that list was my father’s name and a mentioning of the words “hospital” and “Pancreatitis”. I had probably splashed my face with the water that was now filling the partially clogged sink several dozen times as I listened to the news that Sydney Garner had brought.
Usually in movies upon hearing such unwelcomed news, the actor feigns a faint and shrinks to the floor against the wall with the back of the palm resting on the forehead as the character appears to slump into his own world of wild imagination and “what if” scenarios, escalating the intensity and drama of the moment. Cue string quartet music here. I was confused. I felt like doing nothing like what we see in movies, but instead I just dried off my face with the towel hanging on the back of the wash room door, thanked Mrs. Garner for the news, and walked out. As I passed the living room, I could see in the corner of my vision several team members turn in the sofas and follow me out the front door with their eyes; I felt their thoughts. “What’s he thinking? Where’s he going? Is he alright? What should we do? Should someone go out there with him?” I made my way through the shoe room and gently opened the screen door and slipped onto the patio. I was not sure where the composure, both physical and emotional, had come from, but this . . . poise . . . came at the same moment of the news. I looked out over the wall of our compound into the distant landscape of semi-urban Zambia. Nothing else was disturbed in the scene in front of me, the late African morning, and it was the same as any other morning around that time. Everything was calm, everything was as it belongs. I was calm too, belonging to the serenity before me, surrounding me. Something was a constant in this world, something bigger held it all as it should be.
The peace followed me the rest of the day and carried over into the following week. I thought about home a lot over that time. Not just in the United States or Marion, or even my immediate family, though they were never out of my thoughts long. Home is where your heart is, and all day Monday and Tuesday I was home. My heart was with my father, my mother (no doubt she was at his side), my brother (the momentary man of the house and my best friend), those at IWU who I deeply love, my families around Marion, my brother in Lafayette, my brother in Lexington, my families in Cleveland, my family in Harrison Bay, brothers and sisters in Knoxville, my brother in Athens GA, Indy, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Chicago, Naples, Tennessee, and Ohio. My heart was with each of these because I was home, at peace, and I have Him to thank.