UpFront with Mary Hendricks, 11/27/2016

1st Sunday of Advent, Year A

November 27, 2016

Matthew 24:37-44

Such an ominous-sounding Gospel today, huh? The people in Noah’s day were living life one minute when the flood swept them away the next minute. People working in the field or at the mill will be taken into heaven, and some will be left behind. “Stay awake!” Jesus warns. “You don’t know the day or hour when the Son of Man will return to earth.”

Our family has spent an inordinate amount of time together in the car, either for vacations or school/work, and we look forward to and love the long, uninterrupted talks. This Saturday was no different when Son #1 and I drove to Pittsburgh to visit my new great-nephew.

We talked about his dad and how affectionate he was. Harry had no embarrassment about hugging the boys and kissing them when they left the house or telling them he loved them. Because of his father’s example, “I always tell people I love them when I leave them,” Son #1 emphatically said. “What if you never see them again? I always tell Stephen, ‘Love you, bro,’ and hug him.”

Son # 1 wasn’t always like that. Yeah, well, you know how teenaged boys are. They get too big to hug mom or say anything but “Why can’t I?” They’re moody and mad all the time about…whatever. Hard to tell.

Until he went sailing over the guardrail on I-79 when he was a high school junior.

If you’ve never had the experience of getting that phone call from the police that your child has been in an accident, you’re pretty lucky. It ain’t fun. As soon as the officer described what happened and at which mile marker, I was in the car, on the way to the interstate.

Driving his truck home from work, Son #1 decided to close his eyes for a couple of seconds too long. He woke up when the truck drifted onto the berm. He jerked the wheel too hard and lost control. The truck clipped the guardrails as it went over them and flew down a 400-yard embankment, flipping at least three times. He was not wearing a seatbelt.

The driver behind him saw it happen and contacted the police and emergency personnel. Otherwise, it’s hard to say when they would have found him, his truck upside down, him on the passenger side. Good thing, because the driver’s roof was smashed down to the seat.

I got to the scene, shaking and scared, as the stretcher was going into the ambulance. My firstborn son, the one who taught me the meaning of joy, lifted his head a couple of inches, made eye contact, and said, “Mom, I love you. I love you. I love you, Mom.” He couldn’t stop saying it.

Later, he told me that the only thing he could think of was, what if he died and hadn’t told me he loved me? The boy lost the truck he loved, the one he had paid for by himself, and a lot of freedom, but his only concern was that my last memory of him wouldn’t have been, “I love you, Mom.”

As bad as the accident and his losses were, Son #1 sees all of it as a positive experience. It entirely changed the way he wanted to treat the people in his life. He makes it a point to end every conversation, every single conversation, to those he loves with “I love you.”

Jesus tells us to be prepared on this First Sunday of Advent. We don’t want to hear the worst three words in the English language: “It’s too late.” We want to hear the three best: “I love you.”




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