Does God Collect Insulators?
by Lisa McHugh
Reprinted from "Crown Jewels of the Wire", April 2001, page 34
Do you believe in God? I do, and I try to look everyday to see His workings
in my life, and the many ways He strives to care for us. The story I have for
you is strange, indeed, and my experience left me with a lesson in forgiveness
and friendship, as well as an inkling that maybe God has an eye for insulators,
The story starts in the hospital laboratory where I have worked for the past fourteen
years. Three of my co-workers, Gerri, Barbara and Maryann, happened to
have their birthdays fall on the same day, and in the past, I have chosen to
acknowledge this with a simple card, taped to their lockers. This year, however,
I felt compelled to get a small, inexpensive, gift for each, possibly something humorous
to go with their personalities. For Barbara, I purchased a pack of Bic
pens, the spring-loaded "clicky" kind, to support her nervous habit of
pen-clicking, and for Maryann, I got a copy of a magazine she likes to read. Gerri
presented me a problem, though -- I had no idea what to get for her gift. I wasn't
as close to Gerri as Barbara and Maryann, although I've known all three women
for my entire life as a lab tech. I just couldn't tell what might be suitable
That's when it came --- the overwhelming feeling like someone had
whispered in my ear: "Buy Gerri an insulator." What?! I thought, buy
her an insulator? Gerri didn't strike me as the type of person to even know what
an insulator was. Pez dispensers might be more in order, for at least then she
could give them to her grandchildren. "Buy her an insulator," came the
feeling, again, and I couldn't shake it, so off to the antiques store I went.
Okay, God, show me what to do now, I thought as I browsed the aisles of the
multi-dealer shop. Oh! There's an insulator -- but great for my mother's birthday,
which was coming up. And another -- perfect for a Valentine's gift for my husband.
Better grab both of these while I see them. I took both insulators, one
porcelain, one glass, and tucked them into the crook of my arm and proceed to
finish my trek through the store. Not many booths left, so what about the
insulator for Gerri? I was nearly ready to go to the register when I saw it ---
Gerri's insulator. It was a clear, glass one, and from what I could make
out, the embossing read: "Armstrong's TW 16-47." It wasn't the find of the
century, but it was interesting nonetheless, for I had the same one in my
collection, and this one was marked for the bargain price of one dollar. So I
took the insulator from the shelf and added it to my selections, feeling quite
confident that this was the one I was supposed to give as Gerri's birthday gift.
Once at the check-out counter, my eye was drawn to a child's valentine card that
was taped to the back of the register. It was one of those pre-printed kind,
like you'd buy in a package at Wal-Mart for passing out to classroom friends on
Valentine's Day, which incidentally, is my birthday. What struck me as odd about
this valentine, was not the kitten or the big red heart which it held in its
paws, but what it said in the center of the heart: "Jesus thinks you're
special." Well, I must be on the right track, I thought as I paid for the
insulators. Valentine's Day was just a month away, and I had a feeling that
somehow the valentine and insulator were going to be part of a birthday gift for
me, but I couldn't figure out the entire workings of the situation, yet.
home, wrapped the insulator, pens, and magazine, and brought them into work the
next day. Barbara was overjoyed with her clicky pens, and Maryann's magazine, I
had to leave in her locker because she wasn't working that day. As I was closing
the locker door, Gerri walked by.
"Gerri," I said, "do you have a
"Sure," she replied.
We were along by the lockers, and I
had my speech prepared to explain to her what an insulator was, once she opened
her gift and stared blankly at it, which was what I expected to have happened.
But what actually did happen, was entirely different. "Gerri," I began
as I handed her the gift bag. "I know you have a birthday coming up and I
wanted to get you something small because I know you do so much and get so
little in return." It was, in fact very true, for Gerri, our Hematology
section supervisor, is the type of person to give one hundred and ten percent
all the time, but is met with much grief and opposition from some of the people
that work with us.
"Oh, that's so sweet of you!" she cooed. "You
didn't have to do that."
"Well," I said, "it's not much -- the wrapping cost more than the gift."
I watched as Gerri reached
into the wads of tissue paper and pulled out the insulator. Here we go, I
thought -- time to...Wait! Gerri said nothing, but her jaw dropped and she
immediately burst into tears and hugged me.
"Oh my God! How did you know?" she sobbed.
what?" I asked.
"It's an insulator!" Gerri beamed through her
tears. "I used to live in Vermont when I was a child and I've collected a
number of these over the years. We used to dig them out of the farmland where I lived."
"Wow!" was all I could think to say.
continued, "a few years ago, my husband gave away my favorite one to his
sister after she commented on it, not even asking me first. He thought it was
junk, so I put the rest of my insulators away so he wouldn't do that again. I've
been so angry with him ever since he did that, but this makes it so much better!
I didn't think anyone cared."
"Well, Ger," I said, "I had no
idea that you were an insulator collector, but I think a little angel must've
"I didn't know you were one either!" Gerri sniffled.
We laughed and returned to our work and I knew in my
heart that the one-dollar insulator had become more valuable than gold, for it
turned out to be a birthday gift for both of us; it gave Gerri what she need to
forgive her husband for his mishap, and it gave me a friend to "talk
insulators" with. But perhaps most importantly, I learned that God truly
cares about the most minute details of our lives -- even the insulators!
Your editor traveled to the Vatican in Rome many years ago and admired
Michaelangelo s "Adam" on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. That was
1965 B. C. (Before Collecting). I wonder if I would view the artwork differently
having read Lisa McHugh s story. H-m-mm-m-m?????