Listen to the inner voice

Pat Haley - Contributing columnist

We love our trips to Lexington, Kentucky to visit our son, Greg, and his family. They always turn out to be interesting and fun. Our recent trip was no exception.

Grandson Jack informed us was facing a dilemma. At 13 years of age he has grown considerably since early spring. His predicament is an interesting one.

Jack has shown natural athletic ability in baseball and basketball, but has never played football. Yet, the football coach at his school recently evaluated Jack’s size, strength, and ability, and told Jack he wants him to go out for the freshman football team.

He said he’s getting pressure from his friends to play, but since he has never played contact sports, he just isn’t sure he wants to play football.

Jack told us he wants to be the football team manager who helps organize practice, supplies players their gear, helps the team prepare for games, and is instrumental in delivering support during ball games.

“What would you do, Grandpa?” Jack asked.

“I always listen to my inner voice, a quiet voice that only I can hear, when I have to make a difficult decision. The voice is my conscience, or as I like to think, A Higher Power, telling me what to do. Listen to your inner voice, and I’m sure you will make the best decision,” I replied.

“Thanks, Grandpa. I’m going to go tell Henry,” Jack said, as he hopped on his bicycle.

Henry and Jack have been friends and next-door neighbors for all their young lives. Within a few minutes, Jack and Henry walked through the door. We were sitting in the kitchen eating the hamburgers Greg had just grilled, when Henry caught the scent.

“Would you like a hamburger?” Greg asked him.

“Sure. Do you mind if I take a hamburger home to my dad, too?” Henry asked Greg. “He would love one of your hamburgers.”

Henry is a quiet boy. In fact, he seldom speaks, but is a nice, wholesome boy who is a delight to be around. He obviously loves his dad.

After Henry ate his hamburger, he jumped on his bike and headed home with his father’s hamburger in tow. After he left, Jack said he and Henry had been talking about football and Henry told him he faced a dilemma, too.

Although Henry is a solidly built boy, he seems to lack determination on the football field. At his football practice last Friday, Henry said the coach verbally criticized his performance.

“The coach made Henry cry,” Jack told us. “I told Henry what you told me, Grandpa. He needs to listen to his inner voice and decide if playing football is really what he wants to do.”

We then made our way back outside onto the patio to visit, just the two of us. Greg told me a remarkable story about his own inner voice that touched my heart.

As a chief deputy coroner for the Lexington-Fayette County Coroner’s Office, Greg has almost 24 years of experience.

He said not too long ago, he was called to scene of a vehicle accident in the area of the University of Kentucky. Upon his arrival, he found a first-year UK student who had been riding a motorcycle in heavy traffic and ran into the side of a truck. Unfortunately, the young man did not survive the accident.

Greg said he returned to the Coroner’s Office to deliver the death notice to the young man’s family, which he said is the most difficult part of his job.

He said he dialed the number of the young man’s parents, but there was no answer. Within a minute the boy’s mother called him back. She had seen Greg’s phone number on caller ID and knew at once a tragedy had occurred.

Greg told her the tragic news with as much compassion, care, and tenderness he could muster.

Her reaction was one he had heard many times before. Between sobs, she told Greg their family was Catholic and funeral arrangements would be made through their local parish.

Greg said during their conversation he kept hearing an inner voice telling him to share other information he had discovered at the scene of the accident. According to Catholic tradition, a scapular, a large piece of brown cloth, is worn with the promise, “He who dies in this will not suffer eternal fire.”

“I wanted you to know your son was wearing a scapular when he died,” Greg told the grieving mother.

The other end of the phone went silent for a moment. Then, he heard sobs that shook the phone.

”Thank you. You will never know how much your kindness means to me and my husband. He was our only son,” the mother said.

Not every voice we hear inside our head is the voice of God, but when we find the stillness, He often speaks, and we might be wise to listen.

Pat Haley is former Clinton County Commissioner and former Clinton County Sheriff.

Pat Haley

Contributing columnist