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Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014
The gift cardPosted Monday, March 22, 2010, at 5:17 PM
Sometimes we do things that remind us of those who are no longer with us. These actions of ours will bring a smile to our faces and a sparkle to our eyes. In some ways I like to think that our loved ones are aware of us as our actions send them love and laughter across the great divide.
Such is the case with my father.
Our family has gone through the usual stages of grief after his death in October. Of course we had to go through his things in the old Chester drawer he kept for decades. In one envelope we found scores of gift cards and realized that he had kept each one that the rest of the family had given to him for birthdays, Father's Day and Christmas. After we divided them I became the owner of a Denny's gift card.
I've had more fun with this gift card than a person has a right to expect! Known to be a "frequent guest" at several local restaurants in Greencastle, I'll place that Denny's gift card with my check and wait. Those at my table will ask if I've made a mistake and then catch on to what I'm doing. Usually it takes a long time for the waitress or waiter to return to our table and apologetically explain that they don't take Denny's. We'll all laugh as the trickster energy has struck once again.
I can only imagine what each waitress or waiter goes through when they've gone to their counter and discovered the gift card. Do they wonder if I might have grabbed the wrong card in error? Do they check the backside of the card to see if it has that MasterCard or Visa logo after all? Has their computer program frozen if any of them in haste quickly swiped the card into their system without realizing what type of a card it is? Do they question my sanity as to whether or not I'm coming down with early Alzheimer's?
My father was a great practical joker. He loved camouflaging small gifts at Christmas time. He gave fictitious names in restaurant lines and enjoyed having his friends guess when their party's table was finally called. He once sent a sympathy card to my brother-in-law on his anniversary and "forgot" to place a stamp on the envelope, even forcing my brother-in-law to pay for the mailing of the card.
Life was serious enough. My father was going to have some light-hearted fun.
So every time I use his Denny's gift card I think of him. The value on the card is only $10; the value of my using the card this way is priceless. Indeed, there is a part of him that lives on because of the trickery this card has inspired in me.
I hope that you have something like a Denny's gift card in your life. And I hope you'll understand if you are the waitress or waiter who finds it on top of my bill.
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P.T. Wilson is the senior pastor at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, Greencastle, and is also the University Chaplain at DePauw University.