"And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is better to give than to receive'." -- the words of the Apostle Paul, Acts 20:35.
In my lifetime, it has been a wonderful blessing to have given many gifts that meant as much, if not more to me, than to the recipient.
Few of those gifts can top the one arranged for my father’s birthday about 15 years ago.
Not sure where the idea originated, but it seemed like something worth trying. If it worked, it would be memorable. It did, and it was.
The research to find the author’s phone number was amazingly simple. In the late 1990’s he was a practicing physician. Why wouldn’t his number be published?
“Hello. Is this Dr. Ferrol Sams?”
“Yes. This is he.”
“I’m calling because your book, When All the World Was Young, is my father’s favorite book. He’s one of those veterans that never wanted to discuss the war. He convinced me to read your book and now I know why. It speaks for him.
“Getting me to read your book was his way of telling me about his experiences in World War II. Something he could never do. Today, December 7, is his birthday. If I give you his number, would you call him?”
Dr. Ferrol Sams replied enthusiastically, “Yes! I’d be happy to!”
It’s 2012 now. Dad died back in November of 2005, the day after Veterans Day. He was ninety-one. By the time of his death, I, too, had read When All the World Was Young several times. In my father’s last few years, we visited often. Sometimes by phone. Many times in person.
The eccentric and inspirational characters created by Dr. Sams had become regular topics of our conversations. Dad and I spoke of them as if they had been family members or friends from our small Northeast Louisiana town. After the birthday telephone call, that had been so meaningful for us both, Dr. Sams became part of the gang, too. Thinking back on setting up the phone call from Dr. Sams, I realize how much that gift to my father still means to me.
Dad and I referred to the men and women we had read about by their first names. They created an additional bond for father and son. Laughter often dominated our discussions and it was wonderful for him to be able to talk about the war in his own way.
Last week, I started reading our favorite book again. Spending time with such great mutual friends reminds me of what a wonderful man my father was, the great conversations we shared -- and how much I miss him.