The following doesn’t need commentary. It’s written by Rene Heard.
Many of you are aware that my dad has been dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease for several years. He forgot how to walk in early February.
Last night,(Sunday), I texted several of the members of my parents’ congregation and requested whoever had time come by after their evening service and sing a few of my dad’s favorite old hymns with mom and me around his bed. To our delight, about 20 people came. For about an hour, we sang beautiful old hymns – “Sweet By and By”, “Softly and Tenderly”,” Blessed Assurance”, “Never Grow Old”, “Where the Roses Never Fade”, “Standing on the Promises”, “How Great Thou Art” (his favorite hymn in marveling at God’s creation with his science teacher mind) and then ended with “Jesus Loves Me” for the 1 and 3 year old who were present and “My God and I” (one of Daddy’s favorites [as a farmer walking with God in his fields]). I asked the elder who was present to say a prayer at the close of our song time together. During the prayer, as I was holding Daddy’s hand with my right hand and Mama’s with my left, I noticed that his chest stopped moving. I made eye-contact with Kim (one of my friends who was one of Daddy’s high school students). She is now a nurse. She knelt by the bed and started checking for a pulse. He breathed sporadically throughout the remainder of the prayer, then took his last breath after the “amen”.
It was a beautiful end to a beautiful life. My sweet daddy left this world surrounded by the walls he had built 50 years ago, surrounded by the quilts his mother and mother-in-law had made to keep his family warm, surrounded by friends in the community whom he had taught as high school students, surrounded by the beauty of the voices of young and old singing songs of praise to God and songs of hope for God’s followers.
Several hours later, as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, I began to worry that some of the young folks might have been frightened by being in the presence of a person dying. So, this morning, I texted the parents of all the kids who were present. Here is a reply from Carley (age 15) as she and her mom were talking about the events of the evening, “Even though it was sad, I was awed by the calmness. I think it was awesome to be sung with praises to God from this life to the next life. I felt like our singing helped him be calm and not afraid.”
This week will be an emotional journey as we plan the celebration of his life. Please keep us all in our prayers.