Last Tuesday we received one of those phone calls that sends you into a whirlwind of activity and leaves your life changed forever. Wally’s Dad was in critical condition. He had gone into cardiac arrest while driving home and hit a parked car. A friend of the family had been driving behind Pop and saw him slump over the wheel. He pulled Pop from the car who was already unconscious. CPR was performed and EMS arrived. But we feel Pop was gone, having already stepped into eternity and the waiting arms of the Lord.
Wally and his sister Leah left for Oklahoma just hours after getting that phone call. They arrived at the hospital at 3:45 am. Their brother Lewis was there but Mom had gone home to rest a few hours. Tim would arrive on Thursday. The medical team had performed a cat scan on Gramps and found there was no brain activity. Early on Wednesday morning, they took him off of life support and his body died within a few hours.
We later heard from Wally’s Mom that they had had a great morning together. Pop had spent the time doing some chores, cleaning the grates from the grill, vacuuming, shaking rugs. Simple chores that took a lot for him to accomplish. Grams said for every two minutes he worked he sat down for five to rest. He had commented, “whoo, it’s just hard today.” One sweet memory Mom has shared was when they had prayed together that morning, Pop had prayed longer than usual, praying for each of his children and grandchildren by name as he brought them to the Lord.
Grams and Gramps ran an errand and then went to pick up the Falcon from the garage where it was stored. Gramps was planning to clean it up and get it ready to sell. Grams and Gramps parted ways with “We’ll be in touch, and We’ll see you tonight.” Grams went onto work and in about an hour, she received the call that her husband had been in an accident.
My Father-in-law had had heart issues since he was forty-nine. Earlier this year he was diagnosed with hepatitis C which he probably received in a blood transfusion at some point. When our family saw him in June in Arkansas, he was just getting underway with some treatments for stage 4 cirrhosis of the liver, a result of the hepatitis. Grams told us that two of the side effects from this treatment were cardiac arrest or stroke.
As believers, God has promised us that we do not sorrow as those who have no hope. Yes, we do sorrow. But let me share how different it was to say goodbye to our Pop and Gramps because he had trusted Jesus as his Savior years before as a young man. Friday night there was a viewing at the funeral home. For about three hours people filed into the room. And while there were tears, there was also great fellowship and even laughter! That really impressed me.
This is Theresa. My Mother-in –law has taught a grief share class for the past ten years. Theresa came to one of those classes and Grams led her to the Lord and then discipled her. Theresa just kind of became a daughter to Grams and Gramps.
On Saturday morning the family gathered at the cemetery. Two grandsons, Kelty and Allen had arrived late on Friday and missed the viewing. So Grams opened the casket for them to say goodbye. There was no hopeless clinging to a body at this burial. Our hope is that we confidently know that Gramps is alive and in the presence of his Savior. Who would wish him to come back to this old world? Most precious to me was when Lewis asked Kenny to lead out singing in some hymns. We started with Gramps favorite, “The Old Rugged Cross”, then “Amazing Grace” and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” followed by “Majesty” and “He Is Lord”!
That same confident hope allowed us to celebrate Gramps’ life at the Memorial Service. Kaylah played her violin, Kenny sang, Wally and Tim spoke and Marlin read letters from Leah, Michael, Lee and even Grams. Sunday morning Grams went to Sunday School and the time was filled with more testimonies from the class members of how Pop had impacted their life. There was no Bible lesson taught that morning. The lesson was the importance of serving God in everyday life, helping others. Gramp's’ life was an example of that!
(I feel badly I did not get a family picture, just their family in many pictures)
Kenny, Wesley, Ben, Andrea, Sherry, Wally and Elaine
From the moment that Wally called to tell me his Dad was gone, one verse has continually been in my mind… “O death where is your sting?” I Corinthians 15:55. The sting, the hopeless separation that death brings has no hold on a believer’s life. I like to picture my father-in-law driving down Broadway and 7th street and not having an accident, but rather that he just vacated his place behind the wheel! He stepped from the falcon into the open arms of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Who stood to welcome Gene home!