I had a very strange experience working one evening in my shop when suddenly I became over whelmed with a dire sense that I needed to go see my old friend George very soon, or I would never see him again. It first began as a gnawing feeling that became so overwhelming that it jolted me out of my routine to where I could not think of anything else. I stopped what I was doing and went in to tell my wife Francesca about the urgency of what I felt. Francesca reacted with a tender response agreeing whole heartily that I should indeed go see him; however with the numerous bills awaiting payment, we just did not have the money right now. Responding to the reality of our circumstances I replied, "You're right," and returned to work. For the remainder of the evening I continued to feel that strong urgent call to respond.
The next day Francesca called me to tell me something uplifting. She went on to tell me that she met Charlie, Mary and their daughter Heather O'Reilly. We had all met recently at a reception and hit it off as we both had a connection to Ireland, and we had both adopted our daughters from Central American countries. Somehow in their conversation my name was brought up to where Francesca mentioned to them of the powerful urge I had felt the night before to go see my old friend who may be in distress. Charlie insisted that I call him later that evening, that he could help me. That evening I called Charlie and told him who I was. "I understand that you need to go see an old friend," he said. After describing the emotions I experienced the evening before, Charlie then told me that he worked for US Air and would arrange a buddy pass for me to fly up to New York. Give your friends a call and see what weekend is convenient, and let me know.
Thanking Charlie as soon as I hung up, I then called George and his wife Betty. George was overly delighted to hear from me and became even more excited when he learned that I wanted to come visit. To their delight I arranged to fly up a week from the following Friday, and then got back to Charlie.
On the Wednesday evening two days before I was to leave for New York. My wife Francesca, my daughter Ana Claire and I went to a visiting circus. Enjoying a pleasant evening my wife soon began to complain of feeling ill. The next morning Francesca went to work but returned early and still feeling ill went to bed. To her objection I told her that I will stay home with her. "You told George that you will be there, you need to go," she said. If there was a problem here I will call my mother.
All day I tried to get in touch with Charlie when finally around 7:30 that evening I got in touch with his wife Mary. She told me that Charlie had left work and was heading to my house with the tickets. Eight PM the door bell rings. I invited Charlie inside to where he immediately sensed that something was up. I proceeded to tell him of Francesca's feeling sick, and my daughter being so upset went to bed with her. Charlie then told me that the ticket was good for three months, but before he could say another word the phone behind him began to ring. Charlie stepped aside as I took the phone and answered a very distressed Betty who kept asking me, "are you still coming," "are you still coming?" "Of course I am," I replied "What has happened?" George fell down the stairs today and is in hospital, and he is not expected to live. I reassured her that I would be there the next day. With a shocked expression I looked at Charlie and told him, "It looks like I am meant to go?"
Finally arriving in White Plains I made arrangements to stay with another friend rather than put Betty out. Meeting her later at the hospital she was accompanied by another old friend Max who like me was always treated like a family member. I was shocked when I walked into Georges ward and seeing him so close to death. He was 94 years of age and the long fall from the top of the stairs was slowly taking its toll. His skin color was a sickly grey and he was sound asleep. Betty tried to awaken him to where he barely opened his eyes and recognized me. His arms struggling to pull back the blankets he took hold of my hand whispered some inaudible words from his parched mouth and fell back to sleep again. Even though George knew I loved him as a father and friend, I never expressed those words with him, and I knew that he needed to hear them from me.
The next morning I called Betty to see if she would be at the hospital again. She replied that she had much to do and that I should go myself. Standing outside Georges ward I heard laughter inside. Opening the door I see George sitting up in bed and eating a bowl of ice cream. Unlike the day before he looked like his old self, both his color and sense of humor restored. Two young nurses sat on the bed next to him and they were having a great old laugh. With a surprised look on Georges face he says to me. "I thought you had left!" I come to see you one more time I said. With a joyous expression on his face he turns his attention to the two nurses and immediately puts me on a pedestal. As we shared stories he said to me I was a bit selfish in my wants. I wanted you to stay here, but I can see now that you are where you need to be. I am so proud of you. I told him of when he met my parents. I love them so much. George ever since you took me under your roof you became as much a father to me and I love you just as much. I then told him that I see the world as a great ocean and we are like tiny pebbles. Once we are dropped into that ocean the outreaching ripples make barely a difference. All over the world there are issues we have little or no control over. However the tiny ripples that you sent out caught me in them. Those ripples continued and my wife came into my life. Expanding outwards your ripples continued and a little girl that we adopted from a 3rd world country came into our lives and her new life is yet to unfold. You started this and I am just one of the many people you have touched in the course of your life. By this time George was crying, I told him that on Monday he was going home. Betty was preparing a room for him. "That poor woman is going to all that trouble for nothing." He said. I am not going home. I shook George's hand for the last time as we said our goodbyes. I thanked him for being my friend and for the memories I will treasure for the rest of my life. We both knew this was our last meeting together.
Later that afternoon as I entered my house the phone was ringing. Betty was on the line. "I went over soon after you left," she said, and George looked so peaceful in his sleep I couldn't bring myself to disturb him so I came home. The hospital just called to say that he just passed away.