Picture: Jan de Keijzer (creative commons)
One surreal morning some months ago, Merryn and I woke to the news that her father was in hospital after a serious car crash, and my father had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. To complicate matters, my dad is also my mother’s full-time carer, and they live in Australia. With both parents now needing care, and us far away in the UK, some stressful days followed. But then a man named Helmut stepped into our lives. I told Fearne Cotton on BBC Radio 2’s Pause for Thought what happened next.
Love Carries a Notepad
Picture: Glenn Carstens-Peters (creative commons)
Merryn’s father began a slow and gradual process back to recovery. The nature of my father’s predicament meant an even longer journey lay ahead. The plan for him was to have the tumour removed and then for chemotherapy to begin. We flew to Brisbane to support him as the operation approached. When Sunday came, we visited his church too. It was here that Helmut came up to me. Helmut said he’d heard about our family’s situation, he wanted to help, and would soon be in touch. In all honesty, I wasn’t sure anything would come of it. Many promise help without following through.
Two days later, Helmut visited my parent’s house with a notepad in hand. He’d written a list of tasks they might need help with. “You’ll need some meals delivered after the operation,” he said, “—I’ll arrange a cooking roster. Then there’s your mowing—I can do that. What day is your rubbish collected? And when do you do your shopping?” Down the list he went, sorting everything.
Loves Follows Through
Picture: Martha Dominguez de Gouveia (creative commons)
Helmut is a retired truck driver who now spends his days helping the elderly, homeless, and others in need. I asked how this compassion developed, and he said it started when he became a Christian at the age of 45. His experience reminded me of something philosopher Paul Moser once told me—that the greatest ‘proof’ of God’s existence isn’t the beauty of the world, or our innate sense of right and wrong, but the love that flows out from a person when God becomes the centre of their lives.
We landed in Brisbane the day of Dad’s operation—and to the news that his tumour was too large to safely remove. His chemotherapy was delayed too. After three weeks in Brisbane helping in other ways, Dad told us to head home—we’d done all we could and Helmut was now there to help. Merryn and I returned home still a little nervous. Would Helmut really follow through when the real needs hit?
Dad has now had several rounds of chemo. Helmut has driven him to and from the hospital each time. The lawns are mown. The fridge is full of meals.
It feels like we’ve been touched by God through a truck driver’s hands.
Talk to Me
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