It hits me, I’ve just unintentionally arranged the perfect surprise meeting.
Have you ever had one of those Glory Sightings when you just “happened” to run into friends from way back, and the beauty of those friendships zoom into place as if no time had passed? A truly special friend; but life, children and separate paths took their course?
I’m sitting in the Egg & I on Thomas Drive last week after seeing the dentist at the VA Clinic. I’d been wanting to visit the restaurant since I arrived from Vegas where the restaurant by the same name was my favorite breakfast place in the world. I ring my wife, Stacy, from the restaurant saying she must let me take her soon. Surprisingly, she agrees to return the next morning.
My phone dings. It’s an IM from my friend Patrick I haven’t seen in years, telling me his mama is at her one-week time-share down here, and we should connect. When I pastored in Opelika, Patrick, then a student at Auburn, was my music minister for a couple years. I hit Patrick back with a “heck yeah!” He promptly sends me his mama’s number. I call and leave a message. Moments later Mama Faye gives me a ring. I tell her we should get together while she’s in town. I ask how far away she is from Thomas Drive, “A mere three miles.” “So then how about 9 A.M. tomorrow at the Egg & I?” I ask.
It hits me, I’ve just unintentionally arranged the perfect surprise meeting for Stacy with a long-lost friend! I tell Faye I’d just arranged breakfast with Stacy tomorrow, so why doesn’t she meet up with us at 9 and we’ll surprise her? I tell Mike and the manager I’ll see them tomorrow.
Returning home, I tell Stacy we have 9 a.m. reservations. “You need reservations for breakfast!?” she asks with a smirk. “Yep, the place is very busy at breakfast,” not telling her the reservation is with her long-time friend and mother figure.
Stacy’s friendship with Faye predates mine. Faye and the Tisdale family became friends to us both after we married and the church in Opp, Alabama, where she once served as youth pastor asked if I’d consider the job (so they could get her back, of course).
The Tisdale family are “phenoms” of Opp. Loved by everyone in the town. Her late husband was so loved he was given the moniker “Mr Wonderful.” They led the music program at the high school for decades. When Joe had a stroke and no longer could teach, Faye stepped into his job and kept his great work alive. I’ve never seen so many high schoolers involved in a music program. It was a cool thing for the football players to sing in the choir, and many competed for selection to their show choir. We had the best church youth choir for miles. They sang in every Sunday night service.
Stacy & I head to the restaurant the next day. I text Faye, “OMW.” As we arrive, I search but can’t find Faye. Mike spots me and says, “We have your table.” I dismiss myself to wash my hands hoping to give Faye a call. Gina distracts me, pointing. I look that way to find Faye slouched low in the booth. I quickly ask Mike if he’d go tell Stacy “our table was changed.” Stacy gripes a bit, wondering why they would need to move us. There was plenty of room, but she picks up her things and follows. As I show her our seat, she says, “But there’s someone sitting there!?” I reinforce I know that but that’s her seat. As she reluctantly goes to sit down, Faye turns and looks at her and Stacy cries out, “Faye … Tisdale!”
They breakdown into tears of joy and long-lost friendship as I snap a photo of this Glory Sighting.
Of course, I didn’t leave with Stacy, as she and Faye enjoyed an unexpected full day catching up.
Later Faye makes my world even smaller when she asks if I know where she played the organ back in ’72. I could not have guessed … It was Parker UMC.
Keep your eyes up this week, you may run into a Glory Sighting of a long-lost friend.
Jack Stanley is the pastor of Parker United Methodist Church. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.