Sunday, September 23

The Saint Who Was Also a Priest

I have another traveling story, for good measure. On our first flight, we didn't get to preboard (as parents traveling with small children usually do), because the plane was very full and, as I mentioned yesterday, we were flying standby. However, they did allow me to board with the kids after all the "A" people boarded. (Yay!) There was one row left in the way back that had three available seats, so we headed for that one, hoping against hope that we would be fortunate enough to secure one of the few extra seats. Laney was technically a "lap child," but since she doesn't understand that concept, it is really helpful if I can score a little maneuvering room for her. That hope for an extra seat was later dashed, but that's another story.

When we arrived in our seats, Kaden quickly spotted a friendly-looking chap in the row behind us, and he struck up a conversation with him. As is his new custom, he started the conversation with this: "Hey, who are you?" This time he added, "You're on my plane!" I could tell this guy was good with kids when he replied, "Yes, well, thank you very much for letting me fly on your plane." Kaden thought that was pretty cool. This guy obviously understood how this was going to work.

The man made small talk with him, asking the usual questions like what is your name (Kaden's answer sounds like "KadaWallceHessee," which usually earns confused looks); how old are you (Kaden holds up three fingers and says, "This many!"); and where do you live (K: "I'm going home to Daddy!" Man: "Where's Daddy?" K: "My home." M: "Oh, where's that?" K: "My home." M: "Ohhh, I see.").

Turns out the friendly guy in the back row was a man named John, who lives in Murfreesboro (near Nashville) with his wife and four kids. John told Kaden all about his three daughters and one son, and he told us how much he missed them and that he couldn't wait to see them. His story of missing family sounded very familiar to us! John instantly recognized the fact that I had my hands full, and he kept Kaden occupied in conversation for quite a long time. He also made silly faces at Laney, which thoroughly entertained her.

The seat belt light stayed on for most of the flight, so we didn't talk to John much through the short flight to Baltimore. However, we reconnected after our landing, and we found out that he was on the same flight home to Nashville. We walked with him for a while to our new gate, and he told me that he was an Orthodox Christian priest and that he grew up in Tennessee, went to seminary in PA a few hours from my parents' house, and then moved back to the Nashville area to serve in a church. He was a very kind, gentle guy, and I could tell that having four kids of his own had made him very comfortable conversing with preschoolers.

Fast forward a few hours. We boarded our second flight, and Kaden insisted on sitting in the last row of the plane, just like his new friend John had done on the first flight. At first I protested, not wanting to walk to the back of the plane with Laney and our 4 carryons in tow, but Kaden had his heart set on it, so off we went. After a while, we saw John coming down the aisle, and he parked himself right in front of us. Thankfully, this flight was very empty, and we got a row to ourselves. John got his own row, too! Anyway, Kaden started talking to John again right away, and they chatted back and forth until the plane took off.

Toward the end of the flight, Kaden decided he wanted to sit in John's row until we landed. John asked Kaden about all of his "favorites": favorite color, food, animal, etc. It was really cute to see Kaden interacting with an adult. He's very talkative at night (maybe he's a night person like Daddy?), and he was really talking up a storm. I was proud of the way he held up his end of the conversation. John told Kaden that he has a son named Jonah, and he asked Kaden if he knew of any other Jonahs. Kaden thought about it for a few seconds, and then replied, "Yeah, I do!" John said, "Is it from a Bible story?" Kaden said, "Yup, he got on a boat and then he got lost!" John chuckled and said, "Yeah, I guess he did. And he had some pretty uncomfortable accommodations for a few days, didn't he?" Kaden shook his head in agreement. I'm not sure he knows what "accommodations" are, but I guess he thought that sounded right.

As I was thinking about our travels yesterday, I realized how thankful I was that John was there on both flights. He didn't do anything amazing, but he was a friendly face, someone who understood the trials of traveling with children, and he found little ways to help me out on both flights. Just talking with Kaden and helping to pass the time was such a blessing. I doubt John will ever read this post, but I just want everyone to know -- I think he's a saint!


P.S. If you see parents (especially one parent!) traveling with kids and you're able to lend a hand or strike up a conversation with a child to entertain them for a few moments, please do it! Father John was a definite God-send to me, and you could be that blessing to someone else!

1 comment:

Lil_LPerry said...

Thanks for the post :) It's nice to know that not all our "Red-Belly Fliers" are odd....I'm glad he was able to help you out. Cute stories. Oh, and the boarding after the "A" group idea? Get used to it. As of Oct. 1, it's going to be the norm everywhere. Preboarders, Group A, and THEN families traveling with children under 4 years of age. Not sure how I feel about that, but who am I?! :)
Well, I'm off to get my day started. Much love to you and the whole Hesse clan!