We had moved to the North Side of Chicago. Seminary classes started and all seemed to be on target. I would finish seminary, move on, receive a call to pastor a church and get on with life. The Toronado was safely tucked away in a farm building waiting for me to restart what had now become my hobby. The dream was far from dead.
First semester was over. January and February were now history. I received a call to go to Calgary to candidate to become the pastor of the church. Ruth and I arrived in Calgary, people were wearing shorts and sandals. We had left winter in Chicago and met spring in Calgary. Ruth was all excited. Sunday came and I was in the pulpit. I started to preach my sermon and all of a sudden all I could feel was pain. Something was wrong with my legs. My body temperature started to rise, I was sweating and perspiration was running off my face. I had all I could do to concentrate on what I was saying. Finally the sermon was finished. When the worship service was over we went to dinner. The pain had begun to subside. My temperature began to drop. After two more meetings we went back to where we were staying and went to bed. The next morning we got on the plane and went back to Chicago. I was not well. When we got home I sat down in the living room. I was exhausted. I picked up the newspaper and started to read. I called Ruth and asked her if part of the print was missing. She said it was fine. I was beginning to lose my vision. There were big blotches of print I could not see. I ended up in the hospital with detached retinas, massive nodules had grown on my legs, my fever had returned. The nurses wrapped me in ice to bring the fever down. The long and short of it was that I was dying.
I don’t know how long I layed there. Then the doctor walked in the room, he was looked down at the floor, he did not say anything. I looked at him and I asked him how much time I had left. He told me that no one really knows but whatever it was that I was experiencing was now attacking every organ in my body. At the rate it was going I would have less than two weeks to live. I thanked him. I told him that I had served as both an orderly and as a chaplain and that most people just wanted it straight.
It seemed like an eternity but I was finally released from the hospital. I’d been through a lot but I was still alive. We called on some friends and asked them to help us load the truck. We were on our way to Canada. There were some problems with immigration so we stopped at Ruth’s parents farm. The immigration paperwork had been delayed. We did not know how long we were going to wait.
I went to the barn and there was my Toronado. Mice have gotten into it, but other than that she was there waiting for me. Each day I backed the car out of the barn and worked on the rust. I bought bondo, and started to re-craft the running boards and fenders. In some places I should have torched the metal and cut out whole sections but I just didn’t feel well nor had I ever used a torch before.
Every day I worked on that car until it was time to go to Canada. I sanded and filled, sanded and filled until I thought the car was ready to paint. I could not find the right color paint so my plum colored car was now going to be repainted a wine color. Each day I wet sanded the car, cleaned it and got it ready to paint. Then I painted the car and put it back in the barn. I had to leave it behind, but, at the border I signed the paper saying I would be back. The dream was not dead. I would be back. I would drive the Toronado to Calgary.