The Ballestero Blog

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Private Sorrow – Part 3 “The Flight”

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Part 3

The Flight

“Southwest, flight #1381 from Chicago to Phoenix shuddered through the overcast clouds. I shuddered too. All the kisses, well wishes and waves were now memories. I was on a plane with a sense of loneliness.

As a pastor, it’s normal to spend your life supporting and comforting the flock. Today, it seems like some of my streets only run one way. I go to the hospital, nursing home, or wherever for others. No one is here for me. I guess that’s the lot of a minister. Everyone feels he’s strong enough or knows all the right words. Pastors are human. They can hurt too. I’m surprised that not many have figured that out yet.

I guess I’m in the middle of a pity party. I feel tears wanting to come. I must be a big baby. Mom needs me to be strong for her. Today, I don’t feel strong. Where’s this special strength from the Lord that I preach about? Where? Where is it found?

Somehow the roles between parent and child change over the years. I used to be dependant upon Mom and Dad for everything. Now they look to me, the first born, to make decisions for them. I don’t relish the thoughts of making mistakes with their lives.

Tears of fear fall silently. I’m paranoid. I know Daddy won’t look like he did a couple of months ago. He weighs 142 lbs. Mom said. He loses 2-4 pounds every week. Mom needs some time off. Maybe I can help.

She needs to get out of the house. Nurses from Hospice come by and check on him. We haven’t allowed the word “nursing home” to be mentioned yet.

Numbly I mutter a silent prayer, “God help me today, it seems unfair that I help others and there is no one to help me. Who’s going to give me what I need?”

“I am.” The Lord seemed to impress upon me.

The flight is “Open Seating”. Two fresh-faced young people ask to sit by me. Newlyweds. They’re a darling couple. They just got married yesterday. As they sit beside me the talk of their honeymoon plans and new home and jobs in a new state.

They took turns reading aloud from the Bible, their Sunday School lesson and the book ‘One Plus One Equals One”. I watch their excitement with life grow. Fingers point to interesting sites on the ground below. This was their first flight. I felt a twinge. While life was coming to an end in one place, it was just starting here. I wished them the best.

I had listened to Sis. Nona Freeman’s tape about “I Am My Beloved’s And He Is Mine.” She spoke of giving thanks in all things. Her husband had a car wreck and was severely injured. Instead of praying desperately, she had simply said something like, “God, I thank you my husband had a wreck and is near death.” Amazingly, God had given them a miracle.

I thought I’d try that approach. “Lord, I thank you that my Father has Alzheimer’s and is dying.” I sat there a minute. “Lord, it sounds sarcastic when I say it. I’m sorry.” I guess that scripture don’t work for me.

I changed planes at Phoenix. I now sat on Flight #386 to Ontario. Once we were off the ground, I looked up at the “call” button. “Passenger in 10-D needs your help Lord.”

My writing is interrupted by the voice of the flight attendant as she leans over my seat. Carol, a grandmother of a 9 year old, speaks in her soft Texas drawl.

She said, “pardon me sir, but two people have noticed you writing and we’ve decided that you must be an author or writer of some kind. If I might be so bold as to ask, What are you writing about? I want to know too”

I tried to explain in my best “Reader’s Digest Version.” Tears welled up in her eyes. She let them fall. Still clutching her tray she stood there for five minutes or more. She consoled me, telling me of her experiences with her parents dying with Alzheimer’s and how she made it through. I couldn’t believe it. She, a total stranger, was ministering to me. Like He’d done for Elijah, The Lord had sent a “Raven” to minister to my needs, even at 33,000 feet. I felt better.

On leaving, she said her aged Grandmother had once said, “I don’t want to be a blessing. I want to die before I am a blessing.” When I asked what she meant, she said, “You know when someone is sick and lingers a long time, how they always say that it was a ‘blessing’ when they die?” She said, “I don’t want to be a blessing.”

We both chuckled. I told Carol that she was a credit to the airline she represented, and thanked her for caring.

We landed without incident in Ontario. Upon disembarking, I told her that she was a treasure and thanked her again. Standing at the door by the pilot, she threw open her arms and said, “Come here, I wanta give ya a hug.”

She did. (I hoped the Lord and Marcia understood.) I looked out of the plane onto the ground below. My Mother stood behind the fence waiting for me. I walked down the stairs to the tarmac, out in the open air. Mom started waving her arms. Her hug was long, tight and emotional. I was glad to be here. It felt like home.

During the car trip to the house, I read a few excerpts from the pages I’d written. Mom’s driving became erratic as her vision blurred and she fumbled for a tissue. We both had a little cry.

Written by Martyn Ballestero

February 9, 2010 at 11:17 am

Posted in Family, Grief, Life

2 Responses

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  1. Hi Brother Marty,

    I have been reading some of your blogs the past couple of weeks and I want to tell you that you are a great writer. I am very impressed with your writing skills. You are a natural!

    Have you written any books? If not you certainly should. I love the way you express youself.

    My Dad and I loved your Dad’s preaching.

    Judy and I got to visit with your Mother a few years ago in California. Your folks were great people.

    God bless you and keep the blogs coming.

    Nathan Rose

    Nathan Rose

    February 9, 2010 at 4:07 pm

  2. Dear Brother Ballestero:

    My husband is with Brother Johnson, Brother Thomas and a couple of others. The house is QUIET! As I read your words, I thought that I might try to encourage you /:.} As our preachers and ministers in our lives, you are the voice of God for us as saints. We listen and thank God that he has counted us worthy enough to hear his words from such great men of God. Our answers will come through your words of life. Don’t ever feel forgotten or alone. There are times when we want to speak words of encouragement, but feel that it may seem as though we are probing or being ‘nosey’. We want so much to say the right thing when we see the burdnes that at times cannot be hidden. Instead of being able to “stand by your side”, we’ll stay in place there with you on our knees, in the name of Jesus. As a saint, I speak from experience.

    Don’t ever worry about your children not remembering you and Sister Ballestero. Your teachings are forever engraved in their hearts and minds. It shows in their lives everyday. And for what it’s worth, I will never forget either of you. The strength, support and encouragement you were/are for my pastor and his wife is priceless. What they mean to me makes you a pillar in my christian walk for your never failing love. But, who am I? …. A child of the most high God 🙂 !

    God bless you both. I know you remember the words recently spoken, “Nothing” is impossible with God. He will always do something to make a way!

    Love, in the precious name of Jesus,
    Sister Dovie

    Dovie Glover

    February 10, 2010 at 7:26 pm


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