Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few days after Thanksgiving in 1994. A few months shy of his 60th birthday and recently retired, Dad was looking forward to hitting the road the following spring with Mom; pulling their brand new 23-foot travel trailer behind their brand new F-250 pickup. Everything they had been looking forward to came to a halt with the utterance of the "C" word. We soon learned that pancreatic cancer was one of the nastiest varieties, and that the prognosis was not good. It was decided that Dad would have surgery as soon as possible. The plan was to go in and have a look. Depending on the severity of the cancer and how far it had spread, they would either take his pancreas or just sew him back up. The surgery was set for December 22 and regardless of the outcome of the surgery, Dad would be in the hospital over Christmas. It's impossible to predict how you'll react to this type of situation until you're faced with it. Suprisingly, my reaction was anger. Seething, ignorant, vile anger. I was pissed. Damn baby-rapers live long lives, and a veritable saint like my dad was going to die a slow painful death, with the added insult of spending his last Christmas in the hospital. The surgery did not go well. What the surgeon saw when they opened him up was so bad that they just sewed him shut. We were devastated, and I was still pissed. The next day my wife suggested that I pick up some sort of small Christmas tree for my dad's hospital room. Wonderful. I went to Woolworth's (a local 5&10). I was in a foul mood. Woolworth's sucks. It's full of people that can't afford to shop at K-Mart, but it was convenient. As I entered the store I saw the manager strutting around in polyester pants and a clip-on tie. Ooh, he's at the pinnacle of his career, huh? I gave him a scowl and told some kids to get the hell out of my way as I made my way back to the lovely plastic Christmas trees. I picked out a 15" beauty. I got in line and was sizing up all the cashiers. To myself I thought, "geezus, do they have a weight minimum to work here or what? Somebody should tell these women not to wear stretch pants!" I noticed the head cashier had the esteemed 'center aisle' position that was raised up a little higher than the rest of the cash registers. Im thinking she made it to her place of honor based on her weight. She easily had 30lbs on the next biggest cashier! An old lady next to me said something that I couldn't quite make out. Again to myself, "why the HELL can't old people speak up?" She repeated herself, commenting on the lovely piece-of-crap plastic tree I was holding. I responded that it was for my father's room in the hospital. She assured me that he would love the tree. Yeah, right. I turned my shoulder to her to avoid further contact. I took care of my transaction and was leaving when someone called "Sir! Excuse me..." I turned around to see the head cashier (you know, the REALLY big one). She said, "Do you mind telling me your father's name?" "What?!?" "I overheard you telling that older lady that your father was in the hospital" "And...?" "If you don't mind giving me his name, I'll add him to the prayer list at my church." Well, I couldn't speak. I mumbled something about a pen and wrote his name for her, quickly thanked her and left. I barely made it out the door before I started bawling like a baby. By the time I reached my car I could barely see. I sat in my car and slowly re-gained my composure. What's the moral of the story? I don't know. Maybe that I'm not the center of the universe? That our lives touch so many others? That God will go to extremes to get our attention? Probably all of these and many more. I WILL tell you that I was no longer angry. I wasn't happy about my father's illness of course, but I was accepting...and strong...and prayerful. You know what I really think it was? I think it was God saying, "straighten up, butthead! This isn't about you. It's about your mother and your father...and your sister... and your kids. I promised you I wouldn't give you anything more than you can handle! Now suck it up one time and act right. Your mother needs you!" You know what else? I think its about God using someone as an example of His love here on earth. Was the head cashier an Angel? No, not in the way the Bible describes Angels, but I certainly believe that it was no coincidence that the old lady, the head cashier and I all crossed paths at the same time.