I have memories of eating orange Tic Tacs at church. Candy given to me by some couple sitting behind our family. I don't know who they were but I find it ironic that now my children will have their own memories about Tic Tacs at church. But I don't want them to forget who was passing out the candy...
A couple years ago I was the choir director and we practiced in the chapel before church began. While we practiced I expected the kids to sit quietly till we were done; not a very realistic expectation. The kids were pretty good, but Brother Stickle saw my need and started luring the kids to sit with him. He feed them Tic Tacs and entertained them till choir was over. Then one Sunday he handed me a whole container of Tic Tacs. He wasn't going to be at church for a while because he was undergoing chemo treatments and he wanted the kids to still get their candy.
This was the beginning of a special friendship. They kids wrote him thank you notes and get well cards. He and his wife sent the kids thank you notes for the thank you notes and included a dollar for each kid. Well at my house that gave this couple movie star status.
Since then we have visited him in the hospital and in his home. I sang at a surprise party he threw for his wife. They brought little Emily a baby gift and the kids a huge tub of Red Vines. They have told us about their mission to Turkey, and coaching High School sports in McCall and Fruitland years before my Grandpa came to the area. The last year has been full of little ways we have made each others life's richer.
Before Christmas came we went to visit one evening and learned that he was done fighting cancer -he was stopping the chemo. We decided that night to do the 12 days of Christmas for them. The kids and I made crafts- poinsettias made from their hands, Santa suckers, tree ornaments, snowflakes, chocolate dipped pretzels, luminaries, all sorts of stuff. Then Greg used his underutilized writing skills to make little notes about the significance of each gift. The kids had such fun being sneaky and dropping off all the gifts. Then on our last night before we left for Mesquite we went caroling and dropped of the remaining gifts. He was so weak. They were so touched by the gifts and I was so struck by how much I love this man who I really don't know that well. By the end, all the adults were in tears. The kids remained remarkable oblivious.
I think about he and his wife often. We have visited numerous times so the kids sing songs and talk a lot of nonsense. I am so grateful for each visit we get to spend with him. I'm so glad that we were able to get to know he and his wife and to make them a part of our lives. I don't often reach out to others; I feel too absorbed in my own family. This experience has reminded me that my life is made fuller and happier when I let others be a part of it.