Updated: Dec 21, 2020
Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a
million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever. (Elisabeth Kübler-Ross)
Mister Dick lived life like we all do; he succeeded and he failed; he did right and he did wrong; he believed and he doubted, he drank from the cup of sorrow, he sipped from life’s fountain of joy, he lived and he died.
The last years of his life were extremely challenging; he battled prostate cancer and had a stroke but neither of them kept him down for very long. Then an aneurism burst in his stomach, cutting off the blood flow to his legs. He was taken to a hospital near his home that was not prepared to deal with this type of emergency. He was eventually transferred to another hospital and a vascular surgeon worked tirelessly, inserting a tube from his upper body that supplied blood to his legs. The ordeal left Dick partially crippled, but he did not lose his legs. After surgery he fought gallantly and learned to take labored steps with the aid of a walker and leg brace, but he depended on his wheelchair for mobility. And being a jokester, he teased me, “Pastor, one day I’m coming out of this chair and I’m going to walk down the aisle of the church and plant a big kiss on your cheek.”
But time did not wait on Dick. He woke up Saturday morning March 12 th not feeling well. Cecil, one of his friends, came over and spent some time with him. Later that morning his wife asked Dick if he would like to take communion. June prepared the sacraments and read the Scriptures. They partook of the bread and wine together, thanking the Lord for His goodness. Dick looked up at the ceiling and said something. June asked, “Who are you talking to?” “To God,” he replied. “What did He say,” she inquired. “God said, “Have faith.” Dick became tired and was helped to his bed. June sensed his demise was eminent and began calling for support. It was almost twelve when I arrived, prayed for him and read Psalm 107. June and I sat by his bedside; he was unresponsive. The Hospice nurse came and informed us that it was only a matter of time. We all moved into the living room as Dick’s caregiver took care of his personal needs. It was about one fifteen when June went into his room and said, “Dick’s gone he has passed away.” The nurse came and listened to his heart and said to us, “Now would be a good time to pray.” We gathered around his bed and joined hands. I prayed as the nurse listened to his heart. Right after the prayer the nurse looked at the clock and said, “I pronounce him to be dead at 1:22 P.M.” Dick’s passing was so peaceful that none of us realized he was gone until the nurse made the announcement.
He did not labor or struggle; Dick simply took his last breath and slipped away quietly as his friends and family prayed. If you must go and you do; if you must die and you shall; if you will not live forever; and you won’t; then there is a way to pass from this life into the next. As you have heard it said, “If you have to go that’s the way to go.” Dick did it that way.