Today is Father's Day in the U.S. and thanks be to God, I am a father. It is something I thank God for every single day. My youngest son almost didn't become my son because I was scheduled to die before he was born. What am I talking about? Well, let me tell you a story. Someone posted on Facebook asking if any of us remembered a time when we didn’t know God was taking care of us, but looking back, could see it had to be. This was certainly true of me because about twenty-five years before I became a Christian, at about nine o’clock in the morning on December 31, 1976, when we were living in Claremont, California, (L.A.) I went to our local Kaiser Clinic for an injection of antibiotics because I had a cold, and I didn’t want it to interfere with my New Year’s Eve partying. The doctor, (Stephen Glass whom I had never seen before and would never see again—changed things). He was giving me the injection when he noticed a spot on my arm and told me I needed to go the Kaiser Hospital in Fontana, California, twenty-five miles away. I said I would go after the holidays, but he said, “No, right now,” and picked up the phone and made me an appointment. I drove our only vehicle (a VW camper, what else) the 25 miles out to Fontana prepared to spend the day in the waiting room as the dermatologist was very, very popular. Sure enough, there must have been a hundred people in the waiting room. As soon as I sat down, they called my name and I was lucky to escape the others who had been waiting for much longer. The doctor just looked at my arm, said, “Hmm.” He picked up the phone and asked the chief of surgery to come in and look at it. The chief of surgery (Dr. Shaner, another who came into and out of my life) came quickly, looked at my arm and said, “Hmm.” Then he picked up the phone and told someone to get operating room three ready. At this point, I said, “Excuse me! Could someone tell me what’s going on?” The surgeon (who was completely hairless—didn’t even have eyebrows) told me they just wanted to take the mole off my arm to be on the safe side. I had the surgery then and there, and while I was in recovery (they took a big chunk out of my right arm) they called my wife and told her I was out of surgery but would need to be driven home. Now, she thought I was getting a shot at the local clinic and the surgery thing threw her as well as my being in the hospital miles away, but she got a neighbor to drive her out to pick me up. I was told to come back on the third of January to talk to the surgeon again. Needless to say, there was no New Year’s Eve partying that night. On January 3, 1977, I went back out and heard that I had malignant melanoma, Clark Level 3, and only had a one in ten chance of living for two more years. I had to have needle biopsies every day for the next two months, then once a week, and then once a month. They took photographs, but I lived with no more surgeries and no chemotherapy. My youngest son, Keith, was born on July 12, 1979, at the same hospital where they took the chunk out of my arm. I was that one out of ten and got to become a father again.
Was Dr. Glass an angel that day working with God to keep my date with a mission in Africa decades in the future? Was he in league with my wife who didn't yet know she wanted to spend her last years in Africa? I’ll never know. If I get to heaven, I won’t ask. I only have two questions if I get to heaven and that’s “Can I stay?” If the answer is yes, then I will ask for my beloved. That's how my heart works.