Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Death is swallowed up in victory!

Hi friends,

My grandpa went into eternity today at about 7:15 AM. We did not find out until shortly after his passing, so no one was actually in his room with him when it happened. But we did get to see him before the funeral home arrived to pick him up. It was the first time I had seen (in person) and touched a corpse which had not been “dressed up” by make up. There is no question that a corpse is a ghastly sight. The skin has a greenish color (probably produced by the combination of yellow skin and blue, deoxygenated blood vessels) and looks kind of waxy. When I felt his head, about an hour and a quarter after his passing, it was still quite noticeably warm. For some crazy reason, perhaps because of hymn lyrics like “when the death dew lies cold on my brow”, I was expecting him to feel clammy.

But it’s been another day of rejoicing. This has turned out about as good as I can imagine a death ever being. Let me catch you up to date on what God’s been doing.

By Sunday evening, Grandpa was non-responsive, his breathing was somewhat heavy. We did not expect him to live out the night.

Dad spent Sunday night in the facility. One of the great blessings was that Grandpa did not have to go to the hospital. He was able to be cared for until the end right in the same facility where he’s lived for the last year. He moved from Independent Living to Assisted Living on Friday, and died on Tuesday. Dad slept in Grandpa’s suite in Independent Living. (Grandpa’s furniture and possessions had not yet been moved to Assisted Living.)

Monday morning, Dad checked on Grandpa and he was breathing easier, but still totally non-responsive. Dad went into the office to talk to them about Grandpa and they were calling 911 right then for apartment 388. Apartment 388 is where some other great Christian friends of ours live. So Dad ran up to 388 and prayed for them before the paramedics arrive. It turned out the husband had (they thought) a blood clot in his leg. Later in the morning Dad went over and visited them in ER and prayed for him some more. An ultrasound showed he did not have a blood clot (although there was evidence one might have been there in the past). They told our friend to take baby aspirins and sent him home the same day.

When Mom and I arrived on Monday morning to pick up Dad, one of Grandpa’s pastors, a deacon, and his hospice nurse all showed up about the same time. We had a really nice visit with all of them. The hospice nurse was the one who had worked with him on Friday when he had first arrived in Assisted Living and she was amazed at how much he had declined over the weekend. She said she thought he probably had had a blood clot go to his lungs, and that was what had caused them to fill with fluid.

Monday morning my uncle went to work, not planning to come just yet, but two people at work (including his boss) encouraged him to come immediately. So he got on a plane, flew to Phoenix, rented a car, and arrived in Cottonwood by about 5:30. He went in and knelt by Grandpa’s bed and was praying and talking to Grandpa and releasing Grandpa to God, and Grandpa squeezed his hand! This was really amazing, and a great encouragement to him.

My uncle spent the night in Grandpa’s Independent Living apartment and he was the one to discover this morning that Grandpa had died. He called us and we went right over. Another pastor came and prayed a great prayer and encouraged us some more.

Thankfully today the Lord sent a strong wind. Mom has been getting really sick from the odors in the facility, but because of the strength and direction of the breeze today, we were able to open the windows wide and she was able to stay inside for a couple of hours without much damage. The temperature and weather right now is just gorgeous, it’s the kind that makes people move to Arizona!

The memorial service will be Thursday at 10 AM. Pray that the gospel will be clearly presented in the service and that God will continue to use this as an opportunity to cause others think about eternity.

Pray for wisdom and continued strength as we sort through his personal belongings and decide who gets what. I don’t anticipate any arguments (the peaceful relationship between Mom and her brother and sister is another great blessing) but it is still a lot of decisions to make, and some of the decisions will be emotional.

The people who work in the facility have been really nice and extremely helpful with this whole process. Like I said at the beginning, if you’re going to die, I can’t imagine a much better way for it all to work out.

Pray for my aunt as she arrives tomorrow. Since she wasn’t able to see Grandpa, it may be harder for her emotionally. (He’s being cremated.)

I’ll write more comprehensively about Grandpa’s legacy after I’ve had time to catch my breath from the immediate.

Thanks so much for your prayers.


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