His name was Fred. And he was either a wizard with a crooked wand or someone in a pointy hat holding a wiggly snake. That is until a retired kindergarten teacher looked at the drawing. She immediately recognized a firefighter holding a water hose . . . which made a lot more sense. The drawing had been done by 5 year old Owen Walker, newly diagnosed with leukemia and asking his hero to come back and save him. His mother found the drawing and sent it by mail to someone she thought could help. But the mailbag was involved in a collision with a tanker truck full of syrup, turning her letter and numerous others into a pile of stickiness.
So began the latest made for TV movie in Hallmark’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered series. The syrup-soaked envelope containing Owen’s drawing and his mother’s note landed in the Dead Letter Office of the United States Postal Service and into the hands of Oliver, Shane, Norman, and Rita whose sole mission in life is to deliver each letter that comes into their care. As the story goes, Fred turned out to be a stuffed doll dressed as a firefighter, a gift from Owen 10 years before to the fire house where his dad had been stationed. Having lost his father in the line of duty, Owen wanted his friends to have a mascot, someone who could ride with them and magically protect them. But when Owen got sick, he needed his hero back. And now, 10 years after his initial diagnosis, it became their job to make his wish come true.
Long story short, they found Fred and then they found Owen and the two were reunited. But in the middle of all that (and a whole lot more), they went to the firehouse where Owen’s dad had been stationed . . . and the person who greeted them as they walked through the door was Capt. Robin Walker—Owen’s mom . . . the widow of Thomas Owen Walker. Owen had wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the fire department, but his age and health would not allow that, so his mother did instead. Which led Oliver to ask if Owen was afraid of losing her the way he lost his father. Her response was filled with the wisdom born of experience. When her husband died there had been a great many lessons for them to learn, but the most important one was “being afraid of losing someone someday steals the joy of having them today”.
I don’t know who wrote that line, but it is overflowing with truth. “Being afraid of losing someone someday steals the joy of having them today.” That fear won’t change the future; your worry won’t protect them from the evils of this world, but laying both aside is not easily done, especially when it seems we are constantly reminded of the fleeting nature of Life and how quickly and unexpectedly it can come to an end. Fear is the easy response . . . the one that comes naturally, washing over us and refusing to be banished.
But think how sad it would be to spend a lifetime afraid of losing someone, only to realize when it finally happens that you’ve wasted the time you had together, spending it immersed in fear rather than love. It’s a choice that’s ours to make, and as difficult as it may be sometimes, I hope we’ll always try to choose love and the joy it brings.
About the author: Lisa Shackelford Thomas is a fourth generation member of a family that’s been in funeral service since 1926. She has been employed at Shackelford Funeral Directors in Savannah, Tennessee for over 40 years and currently serves as the manager there. Any opinions expressed here are hers and hers alone, and may or may not reflect the opinions of other Shackelford family members or staff.