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2012-06-28 digital edition

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2012-06-28 / Church

THEY SAID IT

(Life Lessons from Hospice Patients)

“Guess the Lord Wanted Me Here”

Willard had been a farmer all his life. He’d worked more than seventy harvests and raised ten children. He was thin but far from fragile, still vigorous at the age of ninety-two.

His wife of seventy-two years was dying in the next room. I sat with Willard at his kitchen table. He was gazing out the window with a faraway look.

“Saipan,” he whispered, turning his blue eyes toward me. “Guys were falling all around me, and I just walked right through. Why?”

He stared out the window again. “Guess the Lord wanted me here,” he continued, smiling faintly.

Death causes many of us to reflect on life and try to make sense of things. Perhaps Willard was wondering why he was the one sitting at the kitchen table while his wife was the one dying. He’d been there before, in the presence of death, and walked on through.

When I was seventeen, I fell asleep at the wheel on a road trip with three friends. I was jolted awake as we slid down an embankment at 70 mph, an exit sign looming directly in front of us. We should have died that night. I still marvel that we escaped unharmed.

Most of us probably have a similar story. We’ve had relatives and friends die from disease, accidents, and war. We might wonder why we’re the ones still sitting at the kitchen table.

Guess the Lord still wants us here.

Let’s make the most of it.

Gary Roe is the Chaplain of Southern Care Hospice and is interim Minister at First Baptist Church in Lexington

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