OPINION – I stopped believing in coincidences a few years ago. That’s not to say that others should stop as well. But occasionally something happens that reminds me why mere chance is overrated.
Last weekend was one of those occasions.
We had traveled to Southern Idaho to attend my wife’s parents’ mission farewell. This meant an 8-hour drive each way with a very brief visit sandwiched in between.
My in-laws had invited family and friends to come to their home for a last cookout and get together. Dozens of them attended. My father-in-law’s barbequed ribs were solid incentive to make the journey.
Amidst the crowd, I spied a familiar face. It was my old boss from when I was a teenager.
Bob was the owner of a couple of drug stores in Twin Falls. My father had been the manager of one of them and I had worked at both stores part time.
Bob was a wonderful employer. One afternoon when I had been out delivering prescriptions, I returned to the store unusually late. Bob asked me why it took me so long to make the deliveries.
I explained that one of the deliveries was to an elderly widow named Grace whose health prevented her from leaving her home. She was terribly lonely and always wanted to visit when I delivered her medicine.
I told Bob that I always saved Grace’s delivery for last because I knew she’d want to visit for a few minutes. Bob thought for a moment and then told me to take as much time as I needed when dropping off her prescriptions.
The bottom line was not as important to Bob as the opportunity to provide a needed kindness.
I remembered how, many years ago when my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness, Bob made one of the most selfless decisions possible. As my dad’s health declined, he was unable to work for most of the last year of his life.
Bob continued to pay my father’s medical insurance premiums and also paid his life insurance premiums until the day he passed away.
No man-made law compelled him to shoulder those costs. But Bob willingly made the sacrifice that enabled my mother to pay off her house and avoid being bankrupted by astronomical medical bills.
There’s a reason his name is spoken with love and admiration amongst our family. His kindness has continued to bless us nearly 25 years later.
As Bob and I visited last weekend, he shared with me a couple of pieces of information that helped complete the bigger picture for me.
When my dad first contracted cancer I was 11 years old. His recovery from surgery and radiation therapy took a long time, after which he struggled for years to find employment.
Bob had hired and then let my dad go after a couple of months when I was roughly 14, he said. Dad’s health was still shaky enough that it affected his ability to work.
I knew that my father had looked for work unsuccessfully for the better part of five years, but I didn’t know Bob had actually hired him during that time.
Bob related how, a couple of years later, my father had approached him and asked forgiveness for the hard feelings he had held. Bob, of course, had no idea that my dad had been angry with him, but forgave him without hesitation.
He shared with me how that simple act of humility had touched his heart and a short time later he hired dad as the manager of his other store. Bob spoke of how grateful he was for hiring my father. Dad loved working for Bob and poured his heart into it for the next six years.
I thought about all this as I made the long drive home.
What some might try to explain away as a long series of happy coincidences looks very different to me. I see a number of conscious choices by one man to do good to others. The effects of his choices continue to bless my family’s lives after many decades.
I see the power of forgiveness in allowing others to move forward unburdened by past mistakes.
More than anything, I see the hand of a loving Creator in the acts of a humble man who has lived the Golden Rule as well as anyone I’ve ever known.
The world needs more people like Bob.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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