Today is May 1, 2021… eight years ago at almost exactly this time, my sister and I stood in a little room and holding hands we asked God to give our dad this one last time to be able to go before the congregation and teach…
Back up a few hours…
My dad had the physique of a giant, barrel chest, broad back, muscles, a six-pack abs (did I say that right?)… in other words, not what you expect to be standing and delivering your Sunday sermon and Wednesday night Bible lessons. His legs were long and slender so that the muscles showed from his thighs down the calf of his legs…and as strong as he was physically, he had the kindest heart and most gentle spirit, loving and forgiving wrongs of all kinds that were done to him. But he was as wise as he was meek, and his spirit of discernment was not equaled. When he called what he saw as the truth in any situation you could count on it being right.
He was a friend of God and God loved him… I know that.
When we were in his room that Wednesday, May 1, 2013 he talked about what he was going to teach that night and asked what music we were planning. I helped him shave while my sister kept my mother occupied…with her dementia she had become extremely jealous and not recognizing me as her daughter thought I was trying to “come on to him” by helping him and she would get furious so… we had to distract her as his physical condition kept him from being able to do some personal grooming. He was sitting in his recliner and had on soft pants and as he adjusted himself his pants rode up high enough to see his legs, we saw that they were extremely red and very swollen…we knew this was a bad sign. I checked his urine output for the day, and it was very dark…we were scared.
He was able to go and teach, although his speech was noticeable slurred.
On Saturday we knew he needed to go to the hospital and get checked out…he said, “I had not wanted to ever go back to the hospital but if it happens here you would have to call the police and there’s no need to go through that.”
That was hard to hear…
On Monday night, May 6, 2013, we called the family in as the doctor told us our dad was going. Daddy told us that his father was standing in the room dressed in a black suit. I asked if my grandfather had come to take him and he answered, “Yes”, “Do you want to go?” “No”.But as we stood there, he began to see things, there were people afar off on a city street, but they were too far away for him to recognize.
I was standing there, and he said, “I saw my soul, it came out and I saw it!” I asked him, stupidly, “What did it look like?” He looked a little incredulous and answered, “Like ME, it looked like ME it IS me!”He continued, “It’s so simple, so simple, you just go out and come back and you never feel a thing! If people only knew how simple it was!” As we all stood around and prayed and softly sang he became weaker but opened his eyes and knew it was time for everyone to go home, he asked where my brother-in-law was, he wanted me to take mother home to rest. By Wednesday the doctor was telling us to consider hospice care, which I knew was not something he would want and neither did I. She thought he might have six months but didn’t believe he would make it that long. They sent the hospice people to see me, and I signed all the papers hoping to take him home even if he had to have the hospice care and walked back into the room.
He was speaking softly, and I walked closer, “Membrane, membrane, there’s only a membrane separating us from them. “I said “Daddy what does it look like? “I was going to continue and ask if it looked like Saran Wrap when he spoke again, “Like thin plastic.” I spoke quickly, “Daddy we aren’t going to let yours get torn for a long time!”He rolled his eyes to find my face and said “Ohhh, but it’s already done.” That was about the last thing he said that we could really understand. No one was there at that point except my siblings my mother and my brother’s wife. We were talking quietly and as if someone signaled to us, we all three got up and walked to the bed where my sister placed both of her hands on daddy’s head, I went and had my hands on his feet and my brother was standing at his right hand. As we stood there I began to softly sing “It Is Well With My Soul” my sister and brother joined in, his breathing became more shallow, he yawned and my sister called out “DADDY”, he opened his eyes wide and looked at her, when he closed them his head dropped and he slipped into eternity as we stood with our hands on him and prayed.
I always believed that we have a cloud of witnesses around us, I always knew that the spirit of the departed could come to comfort you, that your soul could come and go and that until the “silver cord” is broken you will not die but seeing it up close and personal gives you a whole new faith in what happens in the afterlife.
So one week almost exactly to the minute that my sister and I asked God to give him one more week, he died and it was on the “glorious” occasion of the 51stanniversary of the day we first walked into 2800 Piedmont Road, 5-8-1962 to 5-8-2013, and he was able to pastor his own congregation, one that he would never have to walk away from.
I know that my dad is sitting in heaven with family and friends that are already there but mostly, I know that he is happy to be with Jesus, his friend.
Never doubt that eternity exists, and we will all be a part of it, and it won’t be long!