Today I have a dinosaur in my pocket and it made me think of Dad.
Moving through the dozen rooms of our child care center each day, I pick up stray items, dropping small ones in my pocket or purse to take with me to its proper place in the building. Often I promptly relocate the items. Other days they go home with me, forgotten, but eventually returned days later.
That’s how little blue man ended up as a gift for my dad.
When we learned dad was to have major surgery, there was little time to get things organized before flying out to be with him. Cleaning out my purse did not make the to-do list. Somewhere above Missouri, before landing in Kansas City, I discovered little blue man among the pens and paperclips that always sink and line the bottom of my purses. Laughing at myself for carrying such an odd item, I decided to present it to dad as a lucky man, for a lucky man.
We always teased Dad about his luck. In his lifetime he won recliners, televisions, microwaves, and much more. Not a gambler, and years before State Lotteries were the norm anyway, he won by signing up at every possible free drawing at fairs and business promotions. So I told him this little blue guy, now dubbed Lucky Man, was to remind him how lucky he had always been, and would be as he faced the major surgery and subsequent cancer treatment. He laughed and kept it in his hospital room among the balloons and cards. (I knew he’d like it; the goofy gene in our family definitely came from Dad.)
Lucky Man earned a permanent place on Dad’s bedroom dresser for the almost four years Dad battled pancreatic cancer, post surgery. Lucky years for all of us, to have more time together.
We are a family of faith, and credit God with that time, not luck. For me, counting yourself lucky in life is mostly about deciding to be happy. It is choosing joy, wherever it can be found. Even in the midst of fighting cancer, that was Dad’s choice, and it served him well.