Was Child’s Loving Hug a ‘Pay It Forward’ Moment?

Grief can strike anytime and from any direction … as evidenced on a recent cold Sunday morning, a few weeks after Pat’s 93-year-old mother, Katherine “Sis” Moser, died with deadly, slow-creeping Alzheimers’.

Our grief initially had been gentled somewhat by caregivers at The Arbor’s (in Smyrna) where “Sis” was swathed with love and grace until her last breathing moment.

Their loving nurturing, along with the professional and “personal” assistance of attendants Chuck and Thomas at Woodfin’s Funeral Chapel helped Pat stay strong through her mother’s passing and ultimate celebration of life.

But due to my recent diagnosis of a rare blood cancer (5Q minus), our psyches are now hitting “emotional ground zero” over the loss of her Mother.

Professional caretakers advise most mere mortals cannot “prepare” for the loss of a parent, although we know death is coming after long suffering illnesses.

Fast forward to a recent Sunday School (Life Group is a new term, but I’m Old School) meeting at a Bojangles’ eatery, where a child, a stranger actually, walked boldly up to our Bible Study asking to “hug” this tired old writer’s neck.

I still don’t know the sweet handsome boy’s name, but when his little arms gently encircled my neck with pure honest Godly love, Pat and my hearts soared, along with all adults present.

What this child did churned up an old Thanksgiving Day memory.

Children up and down our farm road dearly loved elderly neighbor Poppy Gowen back in the 1940s-era.

With Poppy’s glistening crown of snow-white hair, he was a striking grandfather figure, especially to children.

One Thanksgiving morning, a neighbor child was surprised to find his Poppy pal very weak while reclining on the couch, which was unusual.

After a brief visit, the child reached over and gently kissed and caressed Poppy on his regal crown of white hair, an act the boy had never done before.

Later that day, Poppy died of a stroke.

That long ago Thanksgiving night, the grieving family shared with adult farm neighbors, that Poppy’s eyes had brimmed over with tears following the child’s hug and kiss on his aging forehead.

I was that former little boy.

Finally now, at age 72, due this recent little boy’s embrace publicly in a restaurant, I’m able to share this very personal “Pay It Forward” memorable moment in life.

It was the milestone day I, at age 4, learned that death is a part of life.


Editor's Note:

The following was written by Dan Whittle mid November 2016 shortly after the death of his beloved mother-in-law, Katherine "Sis" Moser.