Before I left for a work trip, I wanted to make another visit to my friend at the nursing home. I knew it would be several weeks before I would be able to visit again so I wanted to squeeze in another visit the weekend before I left. He told me earlier that his chemotherapy was to start up soon. When I asked him if he was afraid, he told me that God had gotten him through everything up to that point, and that this would be no different. I told him about the upcoming trip and what all would happen. We then talked about travel and some of the places he had gone for work projects, which took him all over the country.
While I was with him, I learned that he and his wife were to celebrate their wedding anniversary, a major one, later that week. I knew there was little to no chance that he would be able to get something special for his wife, since he was confined to the bed in the nursing home. So, during the rush of things before leaving, I gave him a call near the end of the week. I asked if he would like me to pick up anything for her. The usual seemed to be acceptable to him. For starters, I picked out a gift bag and loaded it with various chocolates. Of course, that was a win. Then I picked out a nice anniversary card. I knew flowers would come next, so I sought a nice vase. There was a woman standing close by in the aisle next to me, so I asked her for advice. She asked if I were getting all this for my wife. I replied that I had no wife and was getting them for another man’s wife. After a brief chuckle, I explained the situation. She smiled and helped me pick out a beautiful vase that matched well with the flowers. We also put some marble like stones in the bottom to add even more color. It was a beautiful arrangement and his wife would surely like it.
I left the store and headed for the nursing home. When I walked through his bedroom door, I showed him all the things he got for his wife. I could not stay long, as I had yet to even start packing for my trip. I could tell he was grateful. As a man who likes to do cordial things for the special someone he is with, not being able to do so would feel terrible. I experienced this firsthand with my dad, who after losing the ability to drive, found himself in similar circumstances. He always made it a point to get my mom special things and when he was not able to go get them, I offered to drive him to places so he could.
That weekend I left for my trip. By the time I arrived at my destination I received a call from my friend’s wife, thanking me. She told me that her husband was stressing out over not being able to get anything for her, given his situation. I realize the gift did not come directly through my friend. But it was through our friendship the invitation came to honor him by helping to fill this need in his life. The gift of friendship he extended to me returned an unexpected benefit that he did not know until later. It is in acts of service, thoughtfulness, and care for the needs of others that we move past the point of friendship into something more. Family.