A Whale Of A Story

I actually had a chance to go to my condo today.  I got here much later than a typical day off because this was not a typical day off.  Well, actually, and sadly, it was a typical day off as far as my day off streaks have gone lately.  Today began like too many of my “days off”:  with a long meeting.

After my 6:30 a.m. Mass, I went out to breakfast with one of our deacons.  After returning to the parish, I got myself ready to go to Our Lady of Consolation for a clergy day.  Since I was going to Merrillville, I left early and stopped at Marusczak Appliances to pick up a replacement water filter for our refrigerator.   After that, I continued to OLC for the meeting.

I got there at 9:30 a.m. and left at 2:00 p.m.  I finally got to Michigan City a little before 3:00 p.m.  When I got to my condo, I turned on the air conditioning and then went to the grocery store to buy some food for dinner as well as breakfast tomorrow.

After that, I engaged in another Law & Order television marathon.  After a while, I turned off the television, turned on some soft music, and just let my eyes glance around my place.

I have several paintings on my walls as well as some framed pictures.  They always bring back lots of memories — some, bittersweet — and they help me remember where I’ve been in my life.

One of the pictures holds a special place in my heart.  It is this one:

A year before my father died, we went on an Alaska cruise.  He was getting more and more feeble from the cancer and he was looking forward to spending some quality time together.  In Alaska, he also wanted to encounter wildlife.

In Anchorage, we went on a small boat to see what ocean life we might be able to encounter.  My dad told me that he really wanted to see whales.  The captain of the boat was pointing out all sorts of sea creatures: seals, walruses, but no whales.  Dad was beginning to get a bit morose about not seeing his whales.  I did what I often did when I got stressed about him:  I turned to prayer.  My prayer went something like this:  “Dear God, you and I both know that my dad is dying.  He doesn’t have a whole lot more time.  He wants to see whales.  Please let him see whales.”

At that point in time, this young whale breached right next to our boat.  The captain hit the gas, swerved away, and told us to hold on tight.  He was afraid that the mother whale would try to defend her baby and attack our boat.  Instead, the baby bobbed happily and the mother kept a short distance from us, rolling a few times, before they swam away.

My dad was delighted as can be.  Then, with a look of joy, he said to me, “Now I want to see black bears.”  Dear God, my prayer created a monster!  🙂  We did, however, see bears when we went on smaller boats in Ketchikan.  Dad got his fill of wildlife and I gave tons of gratitude to God.

One of the passengers in the boat that day happened to snap a picture of the baby whale as it breached right next to us.  I told her my story about dad wanting to see a whale so badly.  She took it upon herself, when we got back on board, to have her picture printed at the ship’s photo gallery and brought the picture to our dinner table that evening and gave it to dad.

So, this picture reminds me of several things, including:

  • God does hear prayers and sometimes answers them quite dramatically.
  • Whales, even baby ones, are incredibly awesome creatures.
  • Small, kindhearted gestures by total strangers help you believe that there is still hope for the world.

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