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.
- Jesus Loves The Little Children
- I Know That My Redeemer Lives
- Blue Skies and Rainbows
- Something Beautiful
- The Greatest Commands
- I Love Thee So
- Light The Fire
- Make Me a Servant
- Sail Away Home
- Sing Me a Song
Several observations from the funeral struck me as being more profound than any from most funerals I attend. It was not hard to hear the sounds of past family reunions as I looked out over that audience and saw so many with whom I could remember those fun times when our extended family got together. We never got together to eat, though we ate. We never got together to reminisce, though we remembered. We never got together to watch the ball game, though I can remember several times when there was a radio plugged in somewhere on the premises and folks would be periodically checking the score. (Okay, in a few cases, some were never very far from the radio.)
But we got together to sing. Somebody brought books, though we could have sung without them. We had several people who could sing each part and then some. There’s a City of Gold, Beulah Land, Remind Me Dear Lord, All the way My Savior Leads Me and The Old Rugged Cross Made the Difference…and lots, lots more.
About a week before Aunt Eunice died, it was discovered that her heart was failing and the decision was made not to try any drastic treatment, because her body and spirit, at the age of 94, were both ready to leave this life. But she was very cognizant of what was going on that Friday and on her last day of consciousness, she said, “We need to sing!” And so, from that hospital room, there issued forth, for a couple of hours, some of the most beautiful singing this side of heaven. It could be heard up and down the hallway. But that’s really no wonder, since it could also be heard by the heavenly angelic host that surely was gathering in anticipation of bearing her soul from that room to the eternal place of bliss (Luke 16:22). And as they listened, they heard Aunt Eunice sing every single word of every single song. Just too sweet for this life, but surely a foretaste of the one she is enjoying now.
Soon after this, Aunt Eunice lost consciousness, for the most part. She would have short lucid moments and it was during one of those when, as I understand it, she opened up her eyes and said, “The Old Rugged Cross made the Difference.” Well, yes. Exactly.