I pray the day is finding you well.
Have you ever had a nudge?
I got home from my trip to Duluth a few days ago. When I tell people that I used my vacation to go to Duluth people look at me kind of funny. I guess they look at me kind of funny anyway.
While I was on the ride Sandy, from Lone Wolf Harley, emailed me and asked if I could send the title to my bike. One of the technicians is going to buy the bike, as a project, and put it back together. I was on my ride and had not responded yet. I was going to simply mail them the title, with a note, and call it good.
Then I got a nudge.
As I sat there looking at the river behind my house a still small voice said, “Roger, I want you to call Lone Wolf Harley and check on them.”
I do not make a habit of calling Harley dealerships.
I definitely do not make a habit of calling Harley dealerships just to check on them.
I talked with Sandy.
I told Sandy that I was going to send her the title.
I thanked her once again for everything, how they helped me during a time of need.
She told me how they had never seen anyone respond to a problem they way that I did. How they talked about Chuck and I for days after we left. She talked about how we changed the way they look at things.
Then she said something I was not expecting to hear.
She said, “Can you talk to Sasha. One of her friends, an elderly gentleman, had a heart attack and is not expected to make it.” I told her, “Absolutely.” Sandy tried to find Sasha, but could not. Sandy took my cell number and said that she will give it to Sasha.
A few minutes later my phone rings. It is Sasha.
Sasha is in distress.
She is not doing well, and needs someone to listen.
As she talks I can hear sniffling, Sasha is crying.
She tells me that he had come in to see her only a couple of days ago. How they had a nice conversation. How he left and she did not say, “I love you.” To him.
Sasha is chained to the “mirror of regret.”
“If only I knew.” Is what she said.
After a bit she became quiet.
I asked her if she wanted to hear a story?
She says, “Yes.”
I will share the story that I told Sasha. It goes like this:
I pray that the day is finding you well.
We had a retirement party for a very good friend of mine, Ken V. and his wife Rachel. I was asked to M.C. the event.
I joined the Navy in 1983.
I was in navigator school down in Florida during the winter months of 1983. Coming from the high plains portion of the United States, I was not used to having 80+ degree weather in November. To me it was just plain hot. I never did get used to having my glasses fog over every time I walked outside. School was fun, and even though I had been to college, this was a very different environment and I missed my family. I would call home weekly just to hear their voices and to find out what was going on. I usually did this on Saturday evenings. Those were the days before cell phones; pay phones were the only option at the time. I had a choice, I either could line up a bunch of quarters on the little metal shelf in the phone booth, and every two minutes or so be interrupted by the operator, telling me to insert another $2.00, or call collect.
I opted to call collect.
One Saturday evening I called home, my grandfather answered. We called him Boppa. I do not know why we called him Boppa, we called our other grandfather Grampa. I never understand why we give things the names that we do, I try not to think about it, when I do think about it I end up with a headache. I do not like headaches, hence the “I try not to think about it” part.
Boppa was a cool grampa.
He taught me how to hunt.
He taught me how to weld; he was a welder by trade.
Boppa accepted my call after giving the operator a hard time about never hearing of anyone by the name of Roger. Me yelling into the phone, “Just accept the call.” Him keeping up the gag, and just when the operator is about to hang up, Boppa accepts the call. Boppa was quite the character and always told wonderful stories. Nobody else was home so Boppa and I had a great conversation. As the conversation started to wind down, Boppa told me that he was proud of me. I had an almost uncontrollable urge to tell him that I loved him, but I did not. We weren’t that kind of a family. The guys would tell the girls that they loved them and the girls in the family would tell the guys that they loved them, but the guys didn’t tell the guys that they loved each other, I could give a thousand conjectures why, but we just didn’t.
Boppa and I hung up the phone.
Two days later, I get a message from the Red Cross.
The message simple read, “Your grandfather, Boppa died.
I have been fairly lucky in life. I do not have a lot of regrets. The one regret I do have is not telling Boppa that I loved him when I had the chance. I know that he knew that I love him; at least that is what I keep telling myself.
When I called home that day, my actions changed.
Not only did I tell my mother and sisters that I loved them, I told my father too.
I M.C.’d Ken and Rachel’s retirement celebration Sunday afternoon. As I talked, Boppa came to mind. I mentioned that so often we wait until it is too late to tell someone how much he or she means to us. How many times we let the moment pass without saying those words. I asked everyone to not let this moment pass without telling Ken and Rachel how much they love and appreciate them.
Ken and Rachel know that I appreciate and love them very much.
My family knows that I appreciate them and love them very much.
The people in my life know that I appreciate them and love them very much.
How important is it to know that a person is loved?
God tells us the following:
Better is open rebuke
than hidden love. (Proverbs 27:5)
It was the last lesson Boppa taught me.
After I told Sasha this story, she said thank you…sat quietly for a moment…then said, “Roger’ I love you.” I said, “I love you too Sasha.”
She thanked me for the call. She thanked me for listening. She is going through the grieving process. I told her she can call anytime, and talk, yell, cry, scream. I told her that I draw the line at hitting; you cannot hit the chaplain.
She laughed and said she would.
My prayer is that we do not miss any more opportunities to let those that we love how much they mean to us.