This last year, 2022, has been a rough year for Patti and I. January 27th, my wife lost the last and closest member of her immediate family. Her brother, Steve, died from pancreatic cancer. He was diagnosed in early 2021 with it. We went out to see him in California in May of that year while he was still himself. In late January of 2022 we got the call that the end was near. When we got there, he had already slipped into a coma. Yet when Patti came into his room, he knew she was there. A few days later, he passed into the loving arms of Jesus. His wife, Sigrid, was at his bedside constantly. We were all hoping that he would make it to his only child’s wedding on February 5th but it wasn’t to be. His daughter, Linnea, married Brandon Renwick. Even though there was an empty chair there, his presence was felt and acknowledged. We flew back to Michigan in mid-February. Little did we know what awaited us. On February 26th, we got the shock of a lifetime.
It was a Saturday afternoon. We got a call from our daughter-in-love, Becky, our youngest son Tim’s wife. She tearfully needed us to be with them right then. They were in our local hospital’s emergency room. They had just received the test results back. Tim had an inoperable brain stem tumor. There was no operating on it and no hope to stem its growth. Barring a miracle, it would take his life. We all cried and prayed a lot that afternoon.
Tim was the youngest of our three boys. He was 41, ran our small family business, had a wonderful wife and three amazing teen age kids. He was a great husband and a wonderful father and I got to tell him that on several occasions. He spent most of the last five weeks of his life in the hospital. In that time, his faith in Jesus Christ never shone brighter. We all prayed for a miracle healing. And we got it but in a little different way than we expected. While some of us were praying that Tim be healed, as in cured, others were praying that he be healed but left how he was to be healed up to God.
Tim received the ultimate healing. In heaven, there is no sickness or disease. On April 6th, Tim received his complete healing. He went to heaven, completely healed, into the loving presence of Jesus. 1st Thess 4:13 says that while we grieve Tim’s absence in our lives, we don’t grieve like those who aren’t believers in Jesus. I know I will see my son again…and for an eternity in a wonderous place where everything is perfect. I long for that day.
In the meantime, I had to come out of retirement to run our family business. Running a business while watching Tim’s life ebb away was not easy. A bright spot in all of this is that Tim knew where he was going. He thanked us for raising him in a Christian home. He thanked his former youth group leader for teaching him about Jesus. He even ministered to a friend of his who was struggling with all of this…and from his hospital bed no less…incredible. One friend of ours said they hoped they had that kind of faith when it was their time to die. Tim didn’t want his Mom or I to leave his hospital room without praying with him, kissing him on the forehead and telling him we loved him. Many times we openly wept as we prayed with and kissed him. He was lucid until the last two days of his life when he was in hospice.
His memorial service was on April 14th at our church. Our auditorium, which seats 500, was packed. Several people, including Patti and I and our son Chris, got to speak. Many people said it was the most moving memorial service they had ever been to. You can watch it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCrhiNqX0x0.
As I was running our company, one of my best friends decided to help me. He said if I taught him the basics, he could fill in for me so I could take some vacation time. Being that I was the only employee, that sounded good. But he wouldn’t accept any pay. He did it for free just because I was a brother-in-the-Lord in need.
On August 23rd, while sawing some dead tree limbs off of a dead tree, I fell 10’ to the ground when a big branch knocked the new extension ladder, of which I was on, off the tree. I fell to the ground and broke my left shin bone in multiple places. An excellent orthopedic trauma surgeon couldn’t operate on it for two and a half weeks because it was so swollen and the skin was so badly damaged that he couldn’t put stitches in it. So, he kept my left leg in a fixator. When he did operate, he said they’d be a high chance of an infection setting in. Sure enough, a few weeks later, he went back in again to clean out the infection. The surgeon said that he couldn’t remember when he had seen a break so bad. I was in the hospital and a rehab facility for 2 months. During this time, my wife, my best friend and his adult son ran my business. Talk about God’s timing.
When I did come home, I couldn’t put any weight on my left leg. So my wife, who visited me every day in the hospital and the rehab facility, had to get everything and do everything for me. I either sat in my recliner or was in a wheelchair all day. Whenever we went anywhere, she had to pack and unpack my walker and wheelchair in our car and do all the driving. As I write this, I am walking with a walker, still using my recliner and wheelchair and going to physical therapy. I can take a few steps on my own but that’s about it. I hope to be walking on my own in about 6-7 weeks.
Meanwhile, my friend liked our business so much that he’s buying it from me. Again, talk about God’s timing. So yes, it’s been a rough year. I told my wife that when I’m completely healed that I will take her anywhere she wants to go. She said she wants to see and hear the ocean again but in a place she’s never been. I have realized anew just how deep her love for me is. It blows my mind when I think of all the work she’s done to take care of me. God has definitely given me a treasure in her.
Her sacrificial love for me reminds me of the sacrificial love Jesus Christ has for me. We couldn’t have made it thru 2022 without Him. As we leaned into Him, He gave us guidance, comfort and strength to make it thru. So, thank you Jesus for walking with us thru this very difficult year.