I drove this morning to an apartment complex where I was going to be de-odorizing a vacant apartment before some new tenants rented it. When I drove up, I did all of the usual things I do. Made an inventory of all of my equipment, checked my extension cords to be sure there were no frays or loose wires. I made sure I had my gas mask because the fumes; even though all natural, can damage your lungs. I also checked and calibrated my air/gas detector to make sure it was charged up.
The air/gas detector is a pretty important piece of equipment. In the business I’m in, the air is measured by “parts per million”. My equipment releases negatively charged ions into the air, unites with the hydrogen peroxide and creates a powerful agent that literally “scrubs” every surface. It is so strong it can pass through drywall, through the carpet, and into attic spaces. For this reason, I wear a full NIOSH face mask with a breather unit on it to protect my eyes, face, and lungs. I sound like Darth Vader when I wear it. “Luke…I’m your FATHER”… (Yes, I say it every time I put it on…)
I entered the apartment and began setting up the equipment, trying to be efficient with my time and making sure that AC filters were removed and installing vaporizers to spray hydrogen peroxide into the air to be circulated throughout the two bedroom apartment. When I opened the door where the furnace unit and water heater were located, I saw the cold air return directly beneath the door and headed back out to my truck to get my nut drivers and remove the cover and take out the air filter. Can’t leave an old air filter in a unit, or it just defeats the purpose of deodorizing.
As I walked out to get my toolbox, I had a kind of sad feeling and I couldn’t begin to tell you why at the time. But the closer I got to my truck, the sadder I became. This had been a good morning so far. It was Friday for crying out loud…who wouldn’t be happy today…right? I stopped and shot off one of my bullet prayers. “Lord, whatever this is, if I’m worried about my son Josiah, or whatever…please just give me a sense of peace and let joy return.” That was it, no angels appeared singing…just, my toolbox and a sip of my water.
As I entered the apartment again, the heaviness came over me so much that I sat down on the floor in the living room and leaned against the wall. “Lord, I feel so sad…so heavy, what is this?” I asked. No answer…no inkling of what was happening. I sighed heavily and started playing worship music on my phone… (right after Rocky Mountain High by John Denver…had to finish that song!)
I stood and walked over to the cold air intake and
began removing the cover to remove the filter. As the last nut came off I
lifted off the cover and it revealed an absolutely filthy filter,
filled with dust and wrappers and hair and …yuck! I put work gloves on
before I touched that nasty thing, but I noticed a folded half sheet of
paper pressed against the dirty filter and I pulled it off and crumpled
it in my hand as I removed the filter and took it outside. The heavy
feeling had lifted all was well again.
I put it all down and finished my set up, being sure to set the temperature for 78 degrees and unplugging the smoke detector.
All the machines were humming and I put on my mask, checked the air quality in the room started the vaporizers and pulled the apartment door closed and locked it. I would have to return tonight around 10pm to reset my machines since they only have a ten-hour timer.
I had locked the door and forgotten to return the key to the maintenance office. I got a call on my cell from the manager explaining that the property had an electronic key monitor and it had gone off telling him a key had left the premises. I apologized and ran it back over from another client’s car lot where I was working.
When I returned the
key, I had hastily picked up the sheet of paper I had removed from the
filter along with the keys and happened to glance at it quickly before I
threw it away.
There handwritten was a short note,
“Sorry I couldn’t run with you today, but my headaches were pretty bad. They seem to be taking me away from my favorite times with you AND your mother. I’ll get back out there in a few days. Love bein’ your runnin’ buddy!”
I told the guy, I had found an old, expired debit card a back scrub brush and this note. The maintenance manager took the card and threw it and the brush away and was about to toss the note when he read it. He said, “Hey, these people moved to 03-1331…would you just see if they want these? You pass right by it as you leave the property?” I’m sorry but I thought he was being lazy. I said yes but wasn’t really enthusiastic about it. He handed me back the expired card, the brush, and the note and I searched for the apartment and saw a lady just enter it and shut the door as I was driving up.
I walked up to the door and here came that feeling again. I knocked and a woman in her late thirties or very early forties answered. I smiled. I told her my name and what I did for the apartment complex and that I had evidently been preparing her old apartment for rental again when I ran across these three items.
“The maintenance manager thought you might like to have these”. She looked at the card and chuckled and said, “thank goodness that’s expired!” and then bent it up and threw it away and told me to toss the brush in the dumpster. I said, “I thought that’s what you’d say, just didn’t want to do it without asking, some people lose valuable things sometimes and want them back!” I thanked her and turned to go as she looked quickly at the note. I was at the end of the sidewalk when I heard her say, “Sir? Could you come back for a moment?”
I walked back, thinking maybe I’d dropped something. She looked at me and asked, “Where did you find this?”
I explained the cold air return and how it looked like it had been sucked into it and had been there a while. She was quiet and placed her hand over her mouth while reading the note over and over to herself. I could tell it was an emotional thing for her…that note. I didn’t want to break the silence and so I just stood there. In my head, I heard the Lord say, “Just wait.” So I did.
She looked up at me after she had composed herself and said, “My husband, passed away three years ago. He and my son did EVERYTHING together, they played tennis, and swam and ran together. My husband died of a brain hemorrhage in his sleep the very next day 5/13/15.” “We had moved here from Texas and hadn’t even found a home to buy…this market is SO expensive!” She was strong because she did not tear up. She was very deliberate with her words and spoke slowly. “My son graduated and is at Auburn now as a freshman this year…he is a walk-on member of the track team.” “I’m going to move there for the fall semester…just renting here for another month or so!”
She smiled ear to ear. I smiled too and told her how proud her husband would have been. “Oh Yes! She beamed, “Jim was at every single game or meet for our son Drew, they were sports nuts…both of them!” Her eyes narrowed when she spoke next. ” I’m going to frame this and give it to my son…it’s kind of like his dad sent a letter from heaven!” I said, “Only he doesn’t have a headache now!” She laughed and said, ‘You’re right…he doesn’t!” and laughed. She shook my hand and said, “You’ve given the world to me today…thank you!” I told her about the feeling right before I found it. She shook her head and became serious after I said this.
She bowed her head, took my hands in hers and said, “Thank you father, for giving this man hearing ears…and thank you for your Son Jesus!” Well, I am NOT a strong woman…so of course tears flowed down my face…I’m such a baby!
I walked away after I had thanked her for her wonderful prayer. She asked if I was a Christian and I told her yes. She kind of shouted as I walked away…with a boldness she shouted,
“There are lots of us Doug, and there are more of us coming! God is going to fill this earth with us Doug!” I turned to her and shouted, “As the waters cover the sea!” She shouted “Hallelujah!” lifting her hands to the sky. All I could say was, “Hallelujah!”