Monday, February 4, 2013

The Extra Day

I was still in bed when the phone rang early one morning a few weeks back.   It was Larry.  He had missed his flight out of Montgomery.  He'd begged the attendant at the counter to let him through, the plane was still on the tarmac after all, but she insisted that it was too late.  The gates were closed.  He'd have to either catch a later flight which would only get him as far as Philadelphia, or he could rebook for the next day.  He opted for the second choice.  "I was only five minutes late," he sounded tired.  "Well," I told him.  "You probably should have left the house a bit earlier."  I'm not always the most sympathetic listener.  He mumbled something on the other end and hung up.

I know the plans I have for you....I called him back a few minutes later.  He'd left our place on Monday for a meeting in Alabama on Tuesday and had booked his flight back to New York for the day after.  I'd suggested when he purchased his ticket that he might want to spend an extra day in Prattville.  It was, after all, our home for twelve years.  Now he had no choice but to make the best of it.  He was already sounding better when he picked up.  "I'm glad you're there for an extra day," I said.  " You'll know what to do, who to see."
I know the plans I have for you....  Because he missed his flight by those mere five minutes,  he saw and brought comfort to a friend whose husband had recently died,  ministered to a woman who is battling breast cancer and counseled a man who has been struggling with guilt over an issue in his past.  On top of that, there was an extra evening with his son and youngest daughter to be enjoyed,  a steak dinner out at a nice restaurant followed by games, home videos and lots of laughter.

I drove to the Elmira Airport to pick him up the next evening, exactly twenty-four hours later than originally planned.  The plane came in right on time.  Not willing to take a chance on missing another flight, he'd gotten up at four that morning, much earlier than necessary. "You tired?" I asked as we headed out the terminal to the parking lot.  "I think so," he said, "I was in six airports today."  If he'd made his flight the day before, he'd have only been in four.  No doubt he was relieved that this day was almost over.

It was snowing lightly as we climbed into the car, a considerable contrast to the Alabama weather he'd experienced over the last couple of days.  I was glad to hand him the keys and let him drive the  twenty minutes or so it would take to get home.  "You were supposed to be there you know."  I tend to repeat myself when I'm trying to make a point. "You needed to stay that extra day."  He nodded in agreement.  There was no question.  I know the plans I have for you..... 

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