I remember at a young age one of my uncles declaring, “there are only two things certain in life, death, and taxes.” This was just a reality I learned young, but I never really understood or appreciated until recently. As I think back, I guess this uncle was a rather pessimistic person or only saw the cup as half empty. I am definitely an optimist and see the glass as half full. But I am also a very practical person….
Having just lost another family member, and at my age, the stark reality is there. But for me and my faith, I know this world is only a temporary one and my real life will be spent in eternity, worshiping and praising the God of the heavens and the earth! And if that is not reality or true, then will know I lived a happy life preparing for something better than what this world has to offer – and that helps my optimism! I would not have any regrets.
So my point is going to be, how should we live and how should we prepare for death? There is a song I really like that says in part, “I want to live like there is no tomorrow!” As much as I try to live like this and to live fully live each day, those pesky taxes seem to steal some of the spontaneity of life. All I can do is learn from others. I am an observer of life. I am an investigator. And that helps me decide how I want to live …. and to die. And having just stared at death in the face on January 7, 2016, I know I have peace in my heart!
So what else is going on right now? Why am I up in the middle of the night, writing this post?
My sisters and I are helping our mom rebuild her life, again, after the death of our step-dad, her husband of 12 years. Mom was married to our dad for 54 years before he succumbed to cancer. It was unexpected as dad was living independently and they had a pretty decent life together. As we know, no one is perfect. Let’s just say as they aged, they settled down into a comfortable life with each other. Neither really had any health issues. But then, dad began to rapidly lose weight. And eight months later, he passed away. He was in a coma his last three months. At one point, dad knew he was dying. While I lived and worked two hours away, we began to spend most weekends there to help figure out what was going on. One day, Dad brought me out all his insurance papers and filled me in…I was in denial. But that was a gesture I later learned to really appreciate as I became the executor of his estate by default. In the midst of dad’s crisis, my one sister’s husband suddenly died, after suffering from his second heart attack. He was only 52. There was no preparing for his death….
My husband’s dad was diagnosed with cancer of the lungs at age 77. He had just hit his five-year mark from overcoming cancer of the colon. As a family, we had two years to prepare for his passing (in 1996). He was able to get his financial affairs in order, made and paid for all his funeral arrangements. In the end, it was the greatest gift he could have given his family in his passing. Once he did pass, as a family, we could come together and just grieve and then celebrate his life which was well-lived. He left no skeletons in his closet and we had the peace that passes understanding, knowing he was with his Lord and Savior.
Thankfully, my brother-in-law and my dad also gave us this assurance. We knew they knew who God was and they had accepted Jesus as their Savior. So while we had to scramble to make their funeral arrangements, we, at least, had that peace. Our grieving and mourning did not turn to celebrating like we were able to for my father-in-law. Those pesky “tax” issues took our joy….
And then, this past March, my step-dad was given a shocking diagnosis. He had two months to live. Maybe as long as six if he sought treatment. He was also living independently and was my mom’s caregiver. She’s legally blind, but otherwise, very independent – well, as independent as one could be who needs others to “see” for her!
My step-dad was also a believer in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But he and my mom had not prepared for him to go first….you see, mom was a bit of a cougar in that she was 10 years older than he was! And nowadays, 81 is still pretty young. So he really struggled with accepting his death sentence. He was told he could fight it. He did and he managed to live for eight more months. While he did get his financial affairs in order, he did not clean out his closet. He left a few skeleton’s in it. There was discord in his family that no one seemed to know how to overcome. And this is really the moral of this post. He was blessed to know his time was limited (and isn’t all of our time is limited?) so he had opportunities to resolve hurt feelings. But he couldn’t see the forest for the trees. He was the one who felt hurt.
So now, we are trying to help mom rebuild her life. It is not easy having done it once before. But then, again, she, at least, knows she did it once before and perhaps she can do it again.
They say you need something to live for … and right now mom is living to see her two great-grandsons. My daughter is her only grand daughter. Mom and dad moved near us once she was born to help care for her when I went back to work so they have a strong bond with our daughter. Grandparents as such a GREAT gift to babies.
And what is the moral of this story? Make sure you clean out your closet before it’s too late.
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” Romans 3:23
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our since and purify us from all unrighteous.” 1 John 1:9
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven.’” Matthew 18:22
And this is why this blog’s URL address is “Lifetime of Forgiveness.”
What are your experiences in the loss of loved ones?
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