“Son!”, Tim’s father shouted, “Is it possible you could please turn that noise down!?” Tim, who had only two months earlier earned his driver’s license, calmly ejected his favorite music CD that had his favorite song on it.
“Sorry dad, but I love that song cranked up loud because it makes me happy every time I hear it!”, Tim less than calmly replied with a grin on his face. His father glanced over in his son’s direction briefly with a look of disgust. “Tim”, his father finally responded, “What on earth makes you happy by listening to that screaming guitar and what’s the name of that garbage?”
Tim softly smiled as he vowed to himself that he would not become the same bitter, constantly angry, negative, and sadly miserable father he had seen his entire life who sat unsettled next to him on the drive home. His mother tried her best to fend off any possible future negativity in Tim, their only son and child, by always praising him and occasionally clapping in rhythm to the music Tim would ask her to hear.
She had grown weary of trying to explain to Tim of how happy his father was when they first got married. In fact, Tim told his mother one day many months prior that she didn’t have to defend his dad. He told her that he would be more like her when he got married and had a family to call his own.
“Well dad, the song is called “Happy” and Phil Keaggy wrote it. He’s a great guitar player and sings great too!” Tim’s impudent father rolled his eyes and replied, “All I hear is that blasting guitar so Mr. Keaggy or whatever his name is must have lost his vocal chords,” his father bitterly answered.
“No way dad! You tell me to turn if off before he gets the chance to sing! You never listen long enough to hear the words!”
His father shifted in his seat and pointed to a scripture Tim had pinned up on the old sun-visor of the car Tim had bought a week before he got his driver’s license. The old AMC Pacer was all Tim could afford with the money he’d earned since he was 14 mowing lawns in their neighborhood.
“That church you go to would be ashamed of you boy if they only knew the trash you listen to that makes you so happy! Your mom takes you there but it’s obviously a waste of her time. And you wonder why I don’t go?!”, his father replied again with that same unsettled look Tim was painfully accustomed to seeing.
As Tim neared the familiar bend in the narrow two-lane road leading to their home, a new red sport’s car was clearly out of control. Tim frantically tried to steer to the right but the red bullet slammed into the driver’s side of the Pacer–sending it swirling up a sharp grassy incline where again, the Pacer hit with great force on Tim’s side of the car against a big maple tree.
Tim’s father was jarred but had not one blemish as he looked over and saw Tim’s face covered in blood slumped forward and resting with no movement on the steering wheel.
“Oh God! Someone help my son!” Tim’s father shouted as he ran to the street to flag down a motorist. The driver of the red sport’s car, also without a blemish, ran from his slightly damaged car with a cell phone in his hand. “Sir, I’m sorry! Here’s my phone!” The college aged young man shouted with a strong smell of beer on his breath.
Tim was taken to the same hospital where his mother, with his father by her side, was rushed to when he was born. As Tim’s mother arrived in the emergency room, she embraced her distraught husband as both cried with fear uncontrollably. The doctor who’d administered only 30 minutes of treatment in an effort to save their son’s life, asked them to come to a private room.
“I have only had to share this kind of news three times since I began working in the emergency room at this hospital and three times is way too many times,” the gray haired doctor somberly stated. “Your son’s chest cavity was crushed and we did all we could, but he didn’t have the strength to hold on.”
Tim’s parents placed their hands to their faces, sobbing and hoping that what they had just heard was wrong. “Doctor, Tim’s mother through anguished words asked, “Are you telling me my son is dead?” The doctor steadied himself and gained as much composure as he could before replying, “Yes ma’am, your son’s injuries were extremely severe but he was cognitive for the last ten minutes we were trying to save him.” Tim’s parents looked startled and awaited grievously for what the doctor would say next.
“Your son smiled at me and asked that if he died, that I’d promise to tell his dad something. I don’t know, sir, what your son’s final words will mean to you, but I am going to honor his request. I’ve never, in all 27 years of practicing medicine, heard anyone speak with such strength and clarity as your son did being in the condition that he was in. Sir, he asked me to tell you to…please listen long enough to hear the words.”
Tim’s father melted to the floor and the doctor discerned that it would be best to leave the grieving parents alone in the private room.
Two weeks after Tim’s burial, his father opened the passenger’s side door of the Pacer that he simply could not bear to sell. He took the music CD from the car’s CD player and pulled the scripture down that remained on the visor. He got in his Jeep and turned Tim’s favorite song up loudly and listened through the guitar solo until he heard the soulful man’s tenor voice sing the words to this
song entitled “Happy.”
The lyrics rang out joyfully, “I’m so happy Lord; I’m so grateful Lord since You came to me; You set me free and You welcomed me, in Your family…”
He listened to the song repeatedly for a solid hour before he pulled his new Jeep he’d selfishly bought only three days after Tim so happily bought his old beat up AMC Pacer. The Jeep meant nothing to him but as he pulled the scripture out of his shirt pocket, he knew what Tim had been trying to tell him for so many years. Tearfully he read the pin-punctured note’s words: “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:13
Things will never be the same again for Tim’s dad and through Tim’s final words, Tim was, through Christ, determined that his dad would never desire to be the same again.
B. G. Jett (C) 1999 email@example.com