We had been on the road for nearly three hours when a little voice from the back seat said those five fateful words, “I need to go potty.” Not anywhere near one of our normal stops, we pulled off an unfamiliar exit and made our way through a maze of roads to the truck stop. Urging my aching body to move and leaving my husband to fill the gas tank, the kids and I went in search of the restrooms. “Meet me right here when you’re done,” I told the boys, as we parted ways.
Several minutes later, we found ourselves in front of a glass case – tubs of ice cream apparently screaming my children’s names on the other side. It seems I’d told the kids to meet me in front of the ice cream shop portion of the truck stop restaurant. It was 4:45AM. My stomach rumbled at the scent of eggs, bacon, and toast- but I knew that half of us wouldn’t be able to eat in the diner due to cross-contamination issues and celiac. I turned to my husband and asked him what we should do about breakfast while the kids begged for ice cream.
In swooped our Truck Stop Angel. Beaming, he motioned toward the ice cream and said, “Let the kids get what they want – my treat!” The children eagerly ordered their bowls of ice cream as we chatted with our new-found friend. Tommy, a trucker, was on the road for Thanksgiving and seemed to be missing his family. His son is thirteen going on fourteen like our oldest. He’s been to nearly every state, preferring country highways to major cities. Although he enjoys life on the road, he misses his family – and was happy to see our big family together on Thanksgiving morning, travelling so that we could spend time with extended family.
As we started saying our goodbyes, Tommy had one last treat for the kids – each got a five dollar bill to spend as they wished.
Walking back to the van, my heart swelled with gratitude … for a truck stop angel who with one kind gesture filled five hearts with pure delight and brought light to my spirit in the process … and to God, who made sure we were where we needed to be so we could all be reminded about the spirit of giving, of gratitude, and of love with which we should live every moment of our lives.
As I navigate through life, may I always remember the joy and loving kindness shared in the wee hours this Thanksgiving … and should I run into an angel in a dragon-adorned truck, I will say again and always, thank you.