I am no good at organizing my time. I overbook, miss appointments, and one time was late for a wedding I was to perform–by a whole day. So I cannot always say how I came to be in a certain place at a specific time.
Of course, there are those moments we could never plan or arrange–life’s unpredictable appointments that have God’s providence written all over them.
So it was that last night I slept in my parents’ room between their closets. I wanted to be close enough to hear Dad’s breathing over the sound of his oxygen machine. Several times I got up to check on him and all seemed well. Then, around 2:30 Mom’s voice woke me. She was calling across the room in the dark to her husband. It was something about his breathing that disturbed her. I let her know I was there (she was asleep when I arrived) and told her I would check on Dad.
Skipping over a few details, the two nurses who were there (one who lives with my parents and another who, with her husband, kindly volunteered to stay a few nights, came into the room to help me. In fact, they took over. We tended to Dad’s needs for twenty minutes or so, jostling him this way and that, finally settling him into a position we figured would be comfortable. Dad slept through all of it.
I called my oldest sister and sent text messages to my brother and youngest sister to let them know Dad was slipping into a coma. Then I returned to his room. But rather than lie down, I thought I would sit next to him for awhile. Can’t say why. Just wanted to enjoy a space of quiet with him in the dark.
What do you pray? I just sat in God’s presence next to Dad, surrendering everything to God’s infinite love and wisdom.
Dad’s oxygen level and heart rate monitor shut off. I fiddled with it to see if it would come back on. The live-in nurse, who had come over and stationed herself on the opposite of the bed took the monitor and placed it on his other hand. It soon shut off again.
Dad’s breathing gradually became more shallow and less strained. In fact, his breathing was very gentle. Softer. Softer. Softer. And then–the last breath.
Around 3:20 this morning, Chuck Smith (“Papa Chuck” to many, although I have never liked that title, but my thousands of adopted siblings have left me no choice but to accept it), took up permanent residence in his eternal home, “not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
Dad has been very grateful for all the prayers made on his behalf from friends all over the world. These last two weeks, in spite of the cancer spreading in his lungs and that had metastasized and was working its way through his bones, has had no pain. Even these last few days, no pain meds or morphine.
Other than perhaps being “raptured,” Dad preached three services on Sunday and answered questions Monday on his radio program, then made his exit peacefully in his sleep early Wednesday morning. He could not be happier with his transition through the threshold and into Splendor.
He died with his boots on.