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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Godwinks

I recently read a little book called When God Winks, by SQuire Rushnell (yes, his first name really is spelled like that). I found it to be interesting, but I wasn't overly impressed by the book.

Not long after that, my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness. That's when I started to recognize all the godwinks that were happening in my life. I think the fact that I read this book when I did was in itself a godwink.

The author defines godwink as "1. An event or experience, often identified as coincidence, so astonishing that it could only have come from God. 2. Answered prayer." My siblings and I experienced a series of events that could have come only from God. There were simply too many for them to be coincidences.

After three weeks in the hospital and a terminal diagnosis, my father wanted to spend his remaining time at home, but he needed a live-in caregiver to assist him. A nurse at the hospital gave us a two-page list of caregiver agencies. My sister decided to call two or three to get an idea of the services offered, and the cost. My father was very concerned about the cost, so we wanted to assure him that we were getting a good agency at a reasonable price.

My sister picked agencies at random to call. One of them she called because its name is the same as the name of the street on which our grandmother had lived. That was definitely a godwink.

We all liked the agency representative who came to talk with us at the hospital. We liked the agency's philosophy, and the fact that it charged considerably less than the other agencies for the same service. The agency representative -- the daughter of the founder -- said she had a caregiver in mind, and we set up a time to meet him.

Godwink number three happened right after he came into the room. This young man knew my father! He had cared for another man in the same assisted living facility where my father lived. When he and my father met in the hospital, it was like two old friends getting together. My father broke into a big grin when he saw his caregiver-to-be.

We had spoken with a local hospice and plans were in place to provide medical and pain management services to my father, in addition to the live-in care to be provided by the caregiver. But on the day he had hoped to go home, my father's condition worsened, and we decided that he should go temporarily to the hospice's in-patient facility to get his pain under control, assuming there was a vacancy. We didn't know whether there was a place for him or not. The hospice has only 16 beds, but the nurse who came to arrange my father's release and transfer from the hospital said there was a room available. So there was the fourth godwink.

By this point we were all amazed at the godwinks that were taking place as my brother, sister and I continued to make decisions on behalf of my father. We were surprised that things were falling into place so easily at this very difficult time.

Godwink number five happened after my father entered hospice. The chaplain dropped by to visit and asked my sister what kind of music my father liked. "Bluegrass" was the answer, to which the chaplain replied that he just happened to have a CD of bluegrass music in his car. He brought the CD into my father's room, and Dad enjoyed his favorite music for the rest of his time in hospice.

Another godwink, in our minds, was the amazing hospice facility and staff. After having to remind hospital aides to bathe my father or wash his hair or brush his teeth, and to argue with a nurse about giving him more pain medicine, it truly was a miracle to have him in a place where every single person, from the janitor to the physicians, was kind and compassionate. This compassion extended not just to my father, but to his entire family. And the facility itself was beautiful, serene and full of love.

But there was one more godwink to come. At the time, it didn't seem like anything special. A year ago, my father had gone with Honor Flight Chicago on a day-long trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the World War II memorial. His escort that day was the then-commanding officer of Naval Station Great Lakes. The captain had never escorted anyone on an Honor Flight before, and he was transferred to another posting soon after, so it is doubtful that he has served as an Honor Flight escort since then. He wore his 'dress whites' that day, and he and my father, a Navy veteran, had a great time seeing the various monuments and memorials in Washington. When my sister e-mailed the captain about my father's passing, he responded in less than an hour that he would "expend every effort" to attend the funeral had he not been at sea on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

I had never heard of godwinks before a Facebook friend mention this little book. I guess that was the very first godwink in this most recent series of events. Once I told my siblings about godwinks, they, too, began to see that they do indeed exist and that a higher power was orchestrating these seeming coincidences.