I rush into Safeway on this cold, wet, spring Saturday morning, in search of Starbucks. En route to the coffee shop, I hesitate at a bin of watermelons, and reminisce about savoring its taste on hot summer days of childhood. I hear a voice with a hint of a southern drawl say to me, “My Daddy said not to waste the watermelon as it costs seven cents.” I look up to discover an elderly man with twinkly blue eyes and a cross around his neck. His robust physical appearance reminds me of the late Pope John Paul II in his pre-Parkinson’s healthier days. His voice sounds like my father’s with a touch of an Oklahoma accent.
When I ask him his name, he says it is “Reverend Roy” and that he is a “Man of God.” As frequently happens when I encounter strangers, they tell me their ENTIRE life story. I must have “Counselor” written on my forehead.
Standing next to the bin of watermelons, this is what I learn about Roy’s story:
He is 81 years old and was married for 60 years.
His wife recently died of kidney failure. She didn’t want to live with kidney dialysis and begged Roy to talk to God about letting her go. After his conversation with God, she died shortly thereafter. With teary eyes, Roy tells me that his wife’s death is the most difficult thing he has had to deal with in his entire life.
His sister also died. He and his wife were parents of four children: two of their kids died in Afghanistan and their two remaining children are still living and in their 60s.
He was in the Korean War.
Years ago, he was in a construction accident in the workplace and his body was crushed by a piece of machinery. He begged God to save his life and that’s when he “got religion” and decided to be a Preacher Man.
His political views are to the right of Rush.
Toward the end of this one-sided exchange, Roy asks me if he can bless me by putting his hand on my right shoulder. I nod in agreement. He shudders when he places his hand on my shoulder and says that the Lord is blessing me.
After the blessing, I tell him that I have Parkinson’s Disease and that I also have deep brain stimulation and tell him a little about it. I say that my DBS battery is nearly dead, and that I am scheduled to have battery replacement surgery next Friday, May 20. Roy’s response is “Tell the surgeon you don’t need the battery replaced. You are cured and fully charged. And remember to thank the Lord for this miracle.”
After shaking hands when parting, in a daze, I walk over and order a grande white chocolate mocha, decaf, nonfat, no whip coffee. Even when I’m alert, I never can seem to get the order of the words describing the fancy coffees quite right.
I sit down at the table and ponder what has just transpired. Is Roy a depressed and lonely old man, a nut case, a religious fanatic or all of the above?
Although I am a big-time skeptic, I so much want to believe that Roy is also a miracle worker. Just to make sure that I'm not overlooking a miracle, I will have my current battery rechecked before proceeding with the battery replacement surgery next week.
It never hurts to keep searching for that miracle.