Breathing life …legacy, love and courage

This past weekend my husband and I traveled  to South Carolina to be with his Dad who has just lost his wife of 61 years just a few months ago.

His father is struggling in the toughest of circumstances– a broken heart along with a significant amount of critical physical conditions and now facing the choices of to have the convergence of tests and advice from 3 major specialist– the oncologist, the radiologist and the cardiologist. All vying for their opinion of which is the course to least resistance and harm in aged body of a man who is very physically fragile and on oxygen.

When we arrived he came briefly to the door– and then back to his special lift chair, the lines from the oxygen tanks spreading out across the floor. He has been waiting for my husband, his son and me to arrive.  We were in the car before 7 AM heading down the way the car knows well by now as my husband has consistently made this 3 + hour trip since his mother died and he and his brothers rotate weekends with their Dad.

So we come to spend time with him and to see what we can do to lend comfort and encouragement.  It is frankly hard to see him so very fragile and about to tear up when speaking. He has lost so much weight and the lights are dim with the blinds pulled because of the eye surgery on his corneas.  It is hard to look at his hands, gray and drawn up — these hands who played guitar in a band and for years worked in tirelessly to feed his family. A man who served his country in the Air Force and a man who has always loved his family now restricted to the house with the click and whoosh of the oxygen machine that is the constant sound in this now quiet house.

We expected to find him down and hopeless — facing these huge decisions of what to do about the myriad of tests this coming week. So many that they had to be written down for the family and my father in law to keep them straight.

Holding the paper in our hands and seeing them written out was staggering. So many appointments in a week– heading into uncharted territory for both him, our family and it seems even those specialists based on what Aunt Rita ( his sister and Arnold, his brother ) have gathered in the back and forth discussions.

A wee bit of guilt floods our hearts as we realize the importance of being with him and the happiness our presence has brought to him.  Groceries are short for cooking some nutritious meals of some of his favorites which have been more important since he know has a large growth on his neck that is interfering with his swallowing and desire to eat.

We zipped over to the Kershaw IGA and the Farmer’s market and bought what needed to be cooked also for our family knowing  that our daughter Olivia and husband Will , would be arriving soon with 2 year old Eila Grace and 8 month old Asher. We had tomatoes, peaches, cantaloupe from the local farmers and the goodies he had been missing like “sour cream potato chips”.

We got back to the house and  I began cooking baked beans, hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon, and a milk shakes– he really wanted a milkshake and some fruit.  He loved seeing his granddaughter, husband and their family, his great grandchildren.   The most animation in his tired body came at this time and sweetly Eila told him,” I love you Great grandpa , very much!” It was wonderful to see him eat and enjoy his food. He later said with tears in his eyes, thank you for helping wake up his taste buds again.  The little things among the whoosh of the oxygen machine.

The house was for a time no longer a lonely place where Verda ( his beloved deceased wife ) the wafting memory in this house was missing but full of the sounds of family bound together by a long legacy of faithfulness and being there for one another. There is something quite reassuring by the steadiness of my husband’s family. Dear sweet, Aunt Rita who lived a life on the mission field in South America to now in her ” retirement years” being the missionary for the Buffalo Baptist community, greater Kershaw county and a Chaplin at the hospital in Columbia. Then there is Uncle Arnold and his wife, Faye who also came by. We swapped stories , laughs and prayers. The house was busy with phone calls from other Aunts and a friend dropping by to check on things.

He tired easily and took some needed naps. One of the sweet moments during his nap was little Eila jumping up on his chair and announcing to everyone in the room in a clear determined little voice “that she loved her great grand pa very much and he would be back very soon. ”  It was a powerful decree and will not be forgotten by her Papa, my husband who is still trying to come to terms with losing his mother and now is trying to be strong for his Dad.

The next day, Sunday morning he was up early waiting for some coffee and breakfast which he ate with us. We then watched RBC’s very worthy Day of Discovery which was filmed in Israel and was featuring what it means to be in the ” wilderness ” as  Christ follower.
He sat enraptured to what was being discussed and the encouragement of what God does in our wilderness seasons was a great blessing to him.

A few minutes later he is telling us about why he believes the Lord wants him to endure this season of insurmountable things— for his boys, for his grandchildren who he is trying to be sure know Jesus Christ. One granddaughter is on his heart — he wants to be sure she knows Jesus. A promise to himself and Verda — seeing this through.  Inspiring in all ways, this man who struggles to breathe and is a powerful lesson in the ” breath of life” as he goes through this valley.

In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.
Job 12:9-11

Before we left Sunday after lunch– Rita, my husband and I prayed. I had found the olive oil and together we prayed over him and anointed him while praying.

” For the Lord Almighty says, for those who know my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings” Malachi 4:2

Hebrews 4:12

Amplified Bible

    • For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.

3 thoughts on “Breathing life …legacy, love and courage

  1. Praying for your strength, for your family has really walked through the “valley of the shadow” this year. NEVERTHELESS, His Presence is “with you” to comfort and lift and strengthen as the days go by! I know you are always “looking unto JESUS”!


  2. Thank you Sandy– and I know you have walked in the wilderness of losing your beloved husband and understand this grief process. I am so thankful for our friendship of prayer and conversation all these years. If we don’t get to meet on this side of things– I know you will be one of my girlfriends in the “tea room” in heaven. Can you imagine how great that would be?
    All the best to you ~

  3. It was (and is) a blessing to watch you and dad care for grandpa. I know it must make Jesus smile to see the love you have for him and the tenderness you show him. It is a wonderful example for all of us. You described so many of the moments from that weekend beautifully and I know that this will be something I can look back on 25 years down the road and smile while reading it, because it preserves so many memories.

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