Friday, November 10, 2006

Matters of Life and Death

I was perusing my blog posts over the last month and there seems to be a rather hefty emphasis on death. Granted I have no control over who passes and when, but it seems that lately there has been a surge of death in my life. In a very short time, my dog and my grandmother have suffered sudden, massive, and fatal strokes.

The interesting parallel between the two is not that Levi and Grandma Vick died similarly, but how they lived before their deaths. I have pretty well gone on record about Levi, but not about Grandma. She was truly an amazing lady. She lost her husband, my Grandpa, 32 years ago. She continued each day, in spite of the grief and the loneliness. She also lost two of her six children. After raising six kids, she "adopted" four more and raised them. She went bowling with the seniors well up into her 80s. She did her own gardening and yard work. Up until recently, she drove herself and her other senior friends to the grocery store and to doctor appointments.

My motto has been "Get Busy Living" for the last couple of years. I believe I inherited this attitude from my Grandma. She absolutely loved life. She had her routine each day; she rested when she needed to; and she pressed on. She rarely took medication. She truly was an amazing lady.

As a pastor, I visit elderly people nowhere near her age who cannot do the things Grandma did. I feel sorry for them. Many seem as if they cannot wait to die. Grandma Vick couldn't wait to live.

While we were all at her bedside, no one cried or mourned. We laughed and celebrated her life instead of crying and mourning her death. She lived 94 years, and I mean she LIVED. She remembered birthdays of all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She had her right mind all the way to the end.

Though she was unconscious, I believe she knew we were all there. Each time I spoke to her, she responded by squeezing my hand, smiling, and at one time trying to talk. I was one of the last ones to leave and come home. She waited until we were all gone, and then she passed yesterday at 3:00 am Central Time, just mere hours after I unpacked my suitcase.

So what does all this mean? I don't know. One thing I do know is that Jesus said He came not only to give us life, but ABUNDANT life. Literally, "life overflowing." Whatever this means to me, I want it. Like Levi and Grandma, I want to keep on living, no matter what life brings. Like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, I want to "Keep on breathing, for the sun will rise again, and who knows what the tide will bring in."

Lately, I realized that I am too quick to let things get to me. I was talking with my cousin Ben the other day and I pointed out that nothing seems to bother him. I want to be like that. I used to be. I believe I can be again. I want to laugh more, live more, and love more.

Why not?
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