I was going over the manuscript of my book for the third (the third draft, as writers say) and final time and was drinking a glass of Pepsi Cola (which was sitting a little too close to my laptop.) I don’t have to tell you what happened – but I will. Just as I finished and was ready to celebrate, I reached over for a pen lying on my desk; my hand swiped the glass I was drinking from, and cola splashed all over the keyboard.
Whaaa!!! – With years of hard work hanging in the balance, I jumped up and sopped up what I could with a towel, but in an instant, the damage had been done.
While taking the laptop to a computer repair expert, I had to remind myself that the word of God says, “All things work together to those who love God and are the called according to His purpose.” Something I had learned a long time ago, so I didn’t panic or even pray; nevertheless, I was perplexed – what good can come of something like this? Although, it was my fault for being so careless that I didn’t expect God to rectify what had happened – but He did! – and in an unexpected way. What a God we serve!
John, the repairman, said the keyboard was “fried” and so I would have to buy a new keyboard or a buy a new laptop. I didn’t care about that – one way or another. I was only concerned about my manuscript!
But, thank God, I just happened to have the presence of mind to take along a zip drive – just in case I could retrieve my just-finished manuscript from my now-destroyed laptop. Just to be on the safe side, I asked him to retrieve my manuscript – if he could – (I wasn’t about to try this chancy operation myself.) He did it. Plus, John lent me a keyboard to use to extract whatever else I could from my damaged laptop.
While still there, a little old lady came sauntering up to me with a blank look in her eyes and looked me straight in the face as if she knew me or was trying to recognize me. After a moment, she moved on to do something else. As the repairman and I talked at his store counter, the woman came back again to stare at me from less than two feet away. Suddenly she put her hand out and rubbed my shoulder as her questioning stare softened. (It appeared to be a recognition of some kind.) I asked the owner, “Does she belong to you?”
“Yes, she’s my wife.”
I said nothing (I mean, what do you say to someone in those dire straits?), thinking, “poor soul”; she obviously has dementia.
Now, I had to buy a new laptop (an Eleven – whatever that means) – and it is a wonderful tool with all the bells and whistles. It is much better than the 10-year-old one that I had. Looking back, I can honestly say that if I hadn’t destroyed the old one I had, I wouldn’t have bought another much better one.
A full week passed before I remembered that I still had the repairman’s keyboard in my possession. Yikes! I had better take the keyboard back to that gracious man.
I arrived thinking about what I could say to the man to excuse myself for keeping it awhile longer than expected. I needn’t have worried about such a trivial thing. And as he approached me at the sales counter, he remembered me immediately. I explained my tardiness, and he, being a gentleman, acquiesced.
I have an innate instinct to recognize Jewish people immediately, especially after having ministered to and befriended several of them while living in Miami. (Some even invited me into their homes.)
In any case, the proprietor was cordial until I asked him if he was a Christian. He, of course, said, “No, I’m a Jew.”
I said, “I had many Jewish friends in Miami, where I lived for a time. Those were the days when a person could smoke while they had coffee and kibbitz at the Dunkin Donuts shop. We used to gather there for conversation like some still do in Europe.”
The repairman perked up and began to feel at ease, especially after I told him about meeting and befriending the son of a rabbi who had a synagogue in upstate New York. Bo was an adopted child who said he was adopted only to make the rabbi look good, as he and his wife could not conceive a child of their own; and he hated his father.
Nevertheless, the Netanyahu’s lived next door and attended his father’s synagogue. Johnny (Yoni) was a best friend and playmate. Benjamin was his younger brother. (Yes, that Benjamin Netanyahu.) Johnny was killed when the Israeli Special forces confronted the hostage takers at Entebbe in 1976.
Now, the repairman really perked up, and I continued, “Did you know that Bebe’s father, Benzoin, was a professor at Cornell University, a prolific writer of world history, and wrote The History of Sephardic Jews?”
Looking surprised, he replied, “I didn’t know that.”
I continued to say, “I went to the library in Miami to find the book, and sure enough, the ten-pound volume was as thick as a grown man’s forearm.” The man was impressed with my intimate knowledge of these historical Jewish facts.
Then, I hit him with the capper. “Through that book, I can trace my roots back to the first Jew in the New World – a Spanish Jew (Sephardim) who traveled with Christopher Columbus (whose real mane was Cristóbal Colón, just so you know), and this man was a linguist who was brought along – thinking that he might be useful in interpreting the languages the explorers might encounter in India.
By now, I had connected with John and asked how his wife was doing. “God forbid you should ever have to go through something like this.” I could see the resignation and weariness in his face. Then I said, “John, I’d like to pray for you and your wife.” He couldn’t resist even if he wanted to – his eyes glistening over.
Putting a hand on his drooped shoulder and with his wet eyes closed, I made the prayer short and sweet. “Dear Heavenly Father, please comfort John’s wife and give John the peace and comfort he deserves as well – I ask it in Jesus’s Holy name, Amen.”
I reached into my wallet and gave him my card – with the three places where I could be found and told him to call me anytime.