Sunday, April 24, 2011
Jesus is my HERO.
Gary Edward Anderson
4/4/44 - 4/24/11
I saw my Dad alive, for the very last time, last night.
He was laying in the bed... in that awful facility, his head turned to the left. Breathing. Softly groaning.
In his last days and weeks, he hated to be alone. My big, strong, tough, scared of NOTHING Dad, also wanted the lights left on. Sometimes, he would call my Mom at all hours of the night and say, 'will you come and be with me?' Of course, she would.
He couldn't speak yesterday, the drugs that we fought for, for him, made him drowsy and lethargic.
So at 10:15pm, minutes after I stood and watched the nurse give him his 10:00pm dose of Morphine, I gathered my stuff to leave.
I stared. I watched him breathe. I watched that abnormally bulging jugular vein in his neck, pulsating rapidly.
At last, I leaned in toward him.
While staring at his face.
Tears began to drip on his body before I could get my words all out ... 'I love you... I love you... I love you... I love you... I love you...' ... until my voice trailed off. Then I waited...
Would he still hear me? COULD he still hear me?
Was even just a little bit of my Dad still in there?
His eyes fluttered. They opened half-way. They no longer worked right and he couldn't see me. But he tried.
I know he wanted to say something, but simply couldn't. I stayed and stared. I tried to walk out of the room, but couldn't. I came back. I stared at him some more. I whispered again, 'I love you Dad.'
And the next few hours, are some that for the rest of my life, I will NEVER forget.
I got in the car with Mom and Julie, who were waiting on me.
And I screamed. And I cried. And I wailed. And I cried. And I couldn't turn off my sadness. My grief. When we got home, I laid down on the bed that he had slept on, during his battle with cancer, and cried uncontrollably. I pulled the pillow over my head. Even with my Mom and sister there. I felt SO terribly ALONE.
I sobbed like a child last night, unconsolably, into that pillow. Snarfing and sputtering. My arms and hands were numb. My face puffy. My eyes and lips swollen.
After 20 minutes or more, my sweet Mom came in and sat on the bed. She rubbed my head just like my Dad would have, had he been there. Over and over. And I continued to cry. She got a wet cloth...and like only a Mama could do, she wiped it on my face. And wiped and wiped. Wiping away my tears. I asked her, 'Did you do this for Dad too?' And she said, 'Oh yes... A lot.' I asked her if he liked it and she said. 'Absolutely.' Then she rubbed my back. And told me how he liked it when she did that too.
Finally we went to sleep, only to be awoken just a few hours later. It was the call that we dreaded, and yet the call that we longed for. I wanted Dad OUT of his broken down, failing body... and out of his MISERY. And so, his 67 years of vibrant life ended at 2:04am in a bed in a tiny room...on the absolutely best day of the year. RESURRECTION SUNDAY.
'But our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! Philippians 3:20-4:1
Standing by, watching, as cancer whooped up on my Dad... I suppose would be like watching him in a fight with a professional boxer. They are outmatched. It is horrific. But now it is over.
And I am not alone as I felt.
What a SAVIOR.
I have a HERO. His name is Jesus.
He baffles me with his love. His timing. His hand in everything.
Jesus has been a lot of things to me. Father, Comforter, Love, Prince of Peace, King, Almighty God.
But living through the nightmare that I have just lived with my family and my Jesus... my relationship with him has gone to a new level. Jesus is my HERO. I love him more than ever.
I thought, and cried out at different times, so immaturely, 'Where are you God!?!?!?!?!?' as I watched Dad in pain. And Jesus quietly whispered, 'I am always here.'
He has met me in my pain when I cried out to him. I prayed over and over and cried out to him, 'Lord, HOLD ME IN YOUR RIGHTEOUS RIGHT HAND.' I felt sooooooo alone. And he did. And he did. And he did.
Jesus decided that the day that He would bring my Dad home to heaven would be the most important day of the year. Easter Sunday. Just the sweet confirmation that my family needed and just the proper celebration that a guy, who once was lost, and now is found, fully deserves to be part of.
One of the million things that I will miss most about my Dad was the way he rubbed my head. He would, so very gently, with his big tough, rough hand, brush the hair away from my face. But when he would do it, he would rub over and over and over. As he lay, suffering, in that hospital bed, I would take his hand and rub it across my head. It felt like heaven.
God has met me in this dark place of death. He has walked me through the valley of the shadow of death and He was WITH ME just like his word promises. (Psalm 23)
This time in my life. Losing my Dad. Has made me MORE sure of Jesus, and who he is, than ever before. I feel MORE wrapped in his arms than I actually EVER have.
Jesus just loves to be near me and I love to be near him. So I seek him. The Word says seek me and you will find me. I just continue to seek Him, and am immaturely DUMBFOUNDED with how powerfully He shows up.
'I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.' Proverbs 8:17
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.' Jeremiah 29:13
I am jumping up and down.
There is SO much more to the story.
I haven't even written, of how Dad and Jesus met. (I am collaborating with twin sister on that.)
There are stories of a wild and crazy cool dude.
And a sweet, pure girl.
Stories of betrayal.
42 years of marriage.
Of redemption that makes me and my Girlfriends heads spin.
Of trying to outrun God.
Victory in Jesus.
A prayer that changed it all.
A precious, priceless transaction that paid my father eternal life for trusting in Jesus and his death on the cross. A transaction that cost one death, and paid the other LIFE, eternally.
My handsome Dad.
Here he is, sitting on the sofa at his GIRLFRIENDS house, my Mom!, who 1 year later became his wife. This was taken on his last day in the army. It was hot day in June. In North Augusta, South Carolina.
The year was 1967.
It's Mom's favorite picture of her groom.
And this is MY favorite picture of my Mom and Dad.
I just bet he had a black comb in his back pocket. Don't you?
Wednesday, April 27th
First Presbyterian Church
1324 Marion Street