Our youngest “child” turns 40 today. I struggle a bit believing that. Age creeps up when we’re not looking. She seems to be embracing this well.
Her birth took place on a Super Bowl Sunday. I was a little nervous, taking my wife to the hospital, that I might miss the Big Game. Okay…fine. I set the VCR before I left home. (You do remember VCRs, right?)
All turned out well. Ingrid Christine arrived in the early morning hours checking in at a mere 10 pounds 2 ounces—the smallest newborn of our three children. Rhonda, my wife, was made to have babies. No painkillers for her. I shudder to think.
Back in the day, the ignominious PeeWee Herman had a program called PeeWee’s Playhouse. That’s before we knew better. Nonethleless, our kids found it funny.
Each night before falling asleep, little Ingrid and I would lie down together and tease each other saying, “You’re PeeWee.” “No…YOU’RE PeeWee!!” We thought it was very funny. And from that, still today, you might catch me occasionally calling her…”PeeWee."
Of course, Ingrid is not alone in having a birthday on January 24th. Years later, while working in radio in Chicago, I paid tribute to my daughter on air for her birthday. A listener who shared the date wrote to me thanking me for the words I had said to my daughter and claimed them for herself as well. Touching.
Fast forward to last week. Via Facebook, I heard from this former listener again. The message connects to my birthday greeting from years before, but with quite an unusual twist.
Writes Kathy, “Hello Mark! You may very well not remember me. I surely was one of yours and Dave’s biggest (radio) fans! I’ve not found anyone who comes close! When I saw a Facebook post of yours pop up recently I was reminded of my birthday that I share with your Princess! I remember driving into work that morning feeling sorry for myself, feeling somewhat forgotten. I told you I was going to commandeer all the beautiful things you were saying for myself. You sent me a lovely card and I always think of you so fondly!”
Radio personalities never truly know how meaningful connections can be. So it was encouraging to hear from Kathy. But then, this…
“As you well know that birthday is rolling around again and for me it appears to be my last. I am with hospice now fighting pancreatic cancer. The doctor has given me about 5 more months. I am at total peace with the entire situation because I have left it all in God’s hands. I know even when I don’t understand His will, or necessarily like His will, I know I can trust His will!!! I’ve already seen miraculous things happen because of this diagnosis. So, I’m perfectly ready to walk the path I’m on.”
Remarkable faith, is it not? Kathy ended with a simple request…
“My two granddaughters are graduating in June and my prayer is that God will allow me to attend. I know it’s a long shot but it’s not too much for God to handle. So I simply ask that you would pray that God would grant this request—an early birthday gift! Thank you, Mark! And a very happy birthday to your Princess!”
I responded to her, agreeing to pray as she requested. And I opened by saying she sent such said news. But she disagreed. Writing back, she wrote, “Oh please don’t think of it as sad. I am so at peace with our Father’s plan.”
What is it that gives such confidence and peace to a person in the face of their departure from this earth? Kathy grasps the power of 2 Corinthians 5:8 which reads, “Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.” (NLT)
Kathy harbors no ill will toward God. She knows He loves her deeply and will bring her safely home. Maybe…by His grace, she’ll “graduate” after her granddaughters in June. I pray it is so.
To both of these special “birthday girls,” may you have a treasured day.
That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.
You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCosyuBzdSh1mXIas_kGY2Aw?
For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit www.elfstrandgroup.com