I first saw Willie chatting away at the nurse’s station as I walked through the secure double doors on my way to pray with a parishioner awaiting surgery. Whatever he was saying was making the nurse grin. He walked on down the hallway chatting as he went.
I found my parishioner’s room and entered still amused by the man I would soon know as Willie. As I chatted a bit with Jo, the he came in to prepare her to be rolled on to surgery. Jo is a chatt-er as well. Never knew a stranger in her life. She introduced herself and then said, “This is my pastor.”
His eyes lit up and he said, “I’m Willie, pastor. It does my heart good to know that there is a pastor here today. Sure does. Lemme shake your hand.” We shook. “Yes, sir. It is good to have a pastor here today. Remember Willie when you pray because I sure do need it.” I promised I wouldn’t forget.
“Would you also remember my daughter. They got her here today, too.” His perpetual smile wavered. “Pastor, they think she tried to take her own life, but I don’t believe it. Remember her when you pray, too.” He left.
I took Jo’s hand and prayed for her surgery. We prayed then for Willie and his daughter.
Later in the recovery room as Jo was coming to, Willie came in chatting away with the other hospital employees. You could tell that they liked him. He left smiles everywhere. He saw me and said, “Pastor, I know you prayed for me and my daughter. I felt it. I thank you kindly, pastor…Yes, my daughter’s doing just fine. I think she’s going to be just fine. Good to have a pastor here today. God is good.”
“All the time,” I responded.
A nurse overheard and said, “I know you’re talkin’ about my Father.” Willie said, “No. He’s talkin’ about OUR Father.” He smiled, then wheeled Jo out to the car, chatting all the time.