He lay in a hospital bed, unable to speak. A preacher came to see him everyday, holding his hand, offering words of encouragement and turning inward to ask God for help. Bless this soul, the preacher repeated, and return him to health.

My father’s eyes were open, but he was too weak to speak or move his body.

The preacher read scriptures aloud, always smiling, praying and talking with my father about salvation, heaven and hell.

At the end of two weeks my father gestured for pen and paper. The preacher slid them within his grasp, smiling and encouraged.

Father found the strength to write three words, then pushed the paper in his direction. The preacher stood up and read the note. It said, in shaky exhausted script, Hit the road.

written April 30, 2007