Musings, Thoughts & Commentaries
Emily and I went to mass at Sts. Simon and Jude on a Sunday evening. She stayed for faith formation class after mass and I went home to take care of Mailyn who was ill. Before I went back to pick up Emily, I had some time with nothing to do. It was raining and for no reason whatsoever, I drove by my garden on California Street. I just wanted to look at it. On top of some trash outside the garden I saw two pieces of wood carved into strange shapes. It looked like English letters in cursive but I could not read it in the dark rainy night. I took the pieces with me and drove to get Emily.
Waiting in the car in the rain for Emily, I turned on the interior light, picked up the two pieces and tried to fit them together, fumbled and flipped them until “JOSEPH” appeared in the dim light.
I got out of the car to get Emily but before I slammed the door shut, I noticed my wallet lying tucked between the seat and the door frame. It had fallen out of the front pocket of my jogging pants. That had never happened before. I was so thankful. I had almost lost my wallet in the rain and would have had no idea where to look.
It was pouring down now so I decided to carry my “Raiders” hoodie over to the door and surprise Emily -- she was wearing warm weather California fashion—and escort her to the car.
With her in the car, I told her the story about JOSEPH and showed her the two pieces of carved wood script and how they fit together. She said “wow” and turned on the radio. From the radio immediately came one word, a loud “JOSEPH.” We looked at each other amazed. Then the announcer continued his report on someone with that name.
Emily and I sat in amazement and then I told her about my losing and finding my wallet, I reached for my wallet to show her and it was gone. I opened the car door and there it was, again tucked in exactly the same place where it had appeared the first time I lost it.
Riding home I told her about Joseph who died last week. Joe had lived for ten years on California Street in the apartment where I have my garden. I knew Joe; he knew Mailyn and me. We were not close friends, but I was someone he could talk to, two old wounded vets under treatment by the VA Hospital in Long Beach. Joe told me was dying of cancer. He was a smoker who never drank and had lung cancer. I am a drinker who never smoked and have a benign cyst on a lung. He did not tell his family he was dying because he did not want to bother them. The last time I saw Joe, he told me his story and we prayed together. A few days later, Joseph died.
A few weeks later I walked by the garden and found a small silver cross.
More time passed and once again I drove by in the rain to check on my garden. I found a cardboard box in the street and picked it up to throw it away. It might have been Joseph’s. In it was a soaking wet stuffed black monkey, three pennies, and various trash. I hung up the monkey inside the garage to dry and threw the box with the trash into the dumpster. When I got home, I found three pennies on the floor of my car.
A few weeks later I walked by the garden and found a second small silver cross in the street.
During the inspection of Joseph’s apartment before renovation I found two pool cues abandoned. I took them home, Mailyn said she wanted to try to play billiards. At Tumbleweeds she started to play the game. Last night she beat an experienced team of older guys four games straight. They were amazed. The next time we were there, Mailyn won 11 out of 12 games against experience players.
Yesterday, three pennies by my garden exactly where I had found one penny the week before.
All were clear signs my friend JOSEPH was keeping an eye on me.
Yesterday my wife and our two daughters and I attended mass at Saints Simon and Jude. After today, Father Dan will start his new assignment at the Old Mission in Santa Barbara. We wanted to tell him “Pax vobiscum” as he continues his journey.
Father Dan inspired me as I brought my daughters forward on their journeys through baptism and confirmation. I had to share with him some stories of my own.
Our family has moved back and forth to the Philippines over the last 20 years and when we returned to California, Father Dan was here for us.
Once I flew in from the Philippines by myself on a business trip, with the girls still in school back in Davao City. I was alone. I went for a long, fast jog ending in a small park where I used to bring my baby girls, push them in the swings and watch them climb and slide. Sitting at a picnic table, I folded my hands and prayed for their safety. Sitting quietly, the cross on the chain around my neck fell off the chain and landed in my folded hands. Wow, I thought, what a coincidence. I had worn it for about thirty years since I bought it in Switzerland and I guess that was the moment the cross wore through the chain. But I was not moving! Why did it not fall off while I was running?
I flew back to the Philippines a few days later and with my wife and my daughters went for a hike into the country, into the “boondock”. Along a trail, Mailyn and I sat down in the grass while the girls ran ahead to play in an open area, and sitting there, I told her the story about the cross falling into my hand. As she listened, her hand felt something in the weeds. Surprised, she picked up an ornate silver cross with red jewels made in Italy and handed it to me. Coincidence.
I told the story to Father Dan and he blessed the cross. I also told him my story “Joseph” ..but that is a story for another time.
We continued on our journeys.
Tom Anthony is a West Point Graduate and combat veteran who spent his professional civilian career in global business all over the world. He has lived and worked in Austria, Italy, Spain, England, Iraq, Israel, and throughout Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Anthony also lived in Mindanao for seven years.
Copyright 2017 Tom Anthony.