Farewell Richard (1936-2010)

Many thanks for all who have prayed for my family during this ordeal. I have a tragic story to tell you, but with an amazing triumphant satisfying twist.

Mom told me on the phone Monday, April 5 2010, that she had to make a decision to discontinue life support for (I’m going to call him) my second father, whom I’ve known for 27 years and who has put up with many shenanigans from me.

Photo: Jackie, me and Richard

Tuesday, when I came home (Columbus, OH), I immediately went to the hospital. My mom Jackie was a wreck. My first sight of him was sobering.

It was clear that there was no one left in the body that lay there on the bed. He still resembled our beloved Richard, but his spirit was somewhere else. Hidden, watching on a cloud, outside heaven’s gate. It’s anyone’s guess.

Mom was so disturbed by his open mouth (filled with breathing and suction tubes) swollen tongue (which he must’ve bitten during the heart attack) and the way his head kept slumping on the pillow. She made sure the staff at Riverside Methodist Hospital kept him well attended. All in all, they were wonderful.

We cried a lot and we prayed with his daughters and their family and our family. The emotions came out in different ways. Those who had regrets had time to voice them to others and to Richard himself.

One of us had unresolved issues of guilt and upon confession to the man in the bed, they felt better, cleaner and they later understood that they were heard both by the man and by the God that lives and loves us more than we can imagine.

Mom’s recently-healed, fragile body had been at the hospital with him ever since Richard collapsed on Good Friday (April 2nd, 2010) with massive heart failure. Pastor John from the church said that at some point in their conversation, mom thought that Richard might rise (up from the bed) on the third day. We had a good laugh and he said that Jesus’ resurrection is what made us possible for us to rise. And rise we will.

Mom refused to go home to get a good night’s sleep. She would not leave her vigil, just as she had done with her first husband, who died of cancer in 1974. Bad memories.

I told her to expel the bad thoughts and take every thought captive to Christ. “How do I do that,” she asked. “Just ask him ‘Is this of you?’” I said, “Is this what you want me to think and to have to deal with?” It made coping so much easier and her focus so much more intent on the Lord.

The decision was made to release Richard into God’s hands on Wednesday at 11AM. Life support was to be discontinued at that time. Mom had anguished about the decision, but with no brain activity and no reflexes, there was no good prognosis.

As we both curled up for the night in the patient waiting room, we prayed long and hard for strength and for a miraculous healing or if it must be, a merciful death. She wanted so badly to tell him she loved him and appreciated him all he had done for her and us all those years. She needed him to respond somehow, to let her know he had heard. We asked God to allow him to squeeze her hand or open his eyes or something, anything before he went.

No demands were made, no outcomes mandated, just faithful prayers for His will and trust that we would see Him working somehow.

The night was one without sleep for me. She was up and down all night and the incessant voice on the hospital loudspeaker droned on all night, a clarion call for dying souls on the ICU ward.

At 4 AM we went in to see him again (she thought it was 6 AM). There was no change and no sign from Richard. We never lost hope for a miracle. We just didn’t demand that it would be on our terms. Either way, resurrection was certain to occur.

We got some breakfast and prayed some more.

About Wednesday at 11:30 AM all were assembled in the tiny ICU room. We prayed and Pastor John led a reading. We left to allow the techs to remove all artificial life support.

We prayed as a group in a conference room 50 yards away. As we finished praying, the hospital Chaplin Joe rushed in and cried “hurry you have to get back in the room.”

We ran. Richard struggled briefly as we watched. Around the bed, all of us were in tears and holding his hands and each other.

As he died there was a slight sound I liken to a flame being extinguished. My second father then slowly and perfectly closed his open mouth that had bothered mom so much, and he shed a single tear from his right eye as if to say “this is how much I hurt for your pain my love.”

Mom was then able to reach out and wipe his last tear away and save it and the memory of what God did for us that day. We all saw it and no one can deny that God had done yet another miracle for all of us. Oh death where is thy sting, where is thy victory?

Whenever fear, frustration doubt and hardship come to Jackie in the future, she will be reminded of the glorious way her beloved died and the manner in which Jesus came to take him home. And where he is and who he is with now.

Please pray for her.


God's will and the hummingbird

As many of you know, my family has been in difficult times lately. Mom went into the hospital with a critical condition in late-Feb. and I went home to help care for her in March. She has been through a rollercoaster of pain and fear and the like and it has been hellish for us to watch her suffer.

Photo: (L-R) Jackie, me, Richard

My stepdad Richard has been a rock, caring for her with love and tenderness. Mom made a miraculous recovery and is doing fine as of about 10 days ago.

But, on Friday, Richard had a massive heart attack and died in our back yard. Mom did CPR while waiting for the medics and they did revive him. But he was gone for about 1/2 hour and that means no oxygen to the brain.

As I said in my speech at the film festival, life goes slowly until it doesn't. The pain of threatened death and loss allows us to have conversations we couldn't normally. I hope you can use some of my family's pain to talk to your friends about the resurrection this Easter.

The latest news is not good. Richard has no reaction to pain, no reflexes in one eye and very slow reaction in the other. Many other vitals are poor and he has little or no brain activity right now. Mom is believing for a miracle, at least for him to wake up long enough to say goodbye.

I am praying for a miracle of healing, for God's will to be done and for a peace to come over mom.

I told mom (Jackie) this true story:

This Saturday I went for a quick run outside. I have been in so much helpless turmoil, that I needed to run. I found myself going much further than I'd planned and I decided to jog all the way to the top of Tujunga Street, where I often go to talk with Jesus. It has a dazzling view of the valley below here in Burbank. There are many flowers there normally and many birds.

I prayed and I knew that God would show me a hummingbird up there as He usually does.

So I made the jog up, a pretty strenuous trek, especially as I'm not in the greatest physical shape due to time pressures of late. The flowers were far fewer than I had remembered. But, I knew I would see an H-bird, no matter what. I knew it would be up close and specially planned just for me. He knows what joy these creatures give me.

As I watched, an H-bird shot over my head and down the ravine wall like a bullet. It was far away and over in an instant. Nice warmup, I thought and I kept on praying. After awhile, I was prayed out and I needed to get back down the mountain.

As I told mom, I gave up on my demand (of a close-up bird) right then there, knowing full well that God had the power and could show me on the way down, or He could choose to not show me the H-bird at all.

As Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego said before being thrown into the furnace in Daniel 3: " the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

They made their dreams and desires subservient to God's will, while knowing full well that His power was sufficient to do whatever his plans called for.

There is freedom from fear in that. We know he can and if he can, then he will save us if that fits his purpose. He will never leave us or forsake us so then, we know that whatever he does, he has our best in mind.

Jogging down the mountain, I still expected to see the H-bird, but I knew it would be miraculous, because the cars are in very close proximity to any hiding places in trees and there are very few flowers on the road up. I had given up my demand to see it in my timing.

I was enjoying the jog down and at once I felt the urge to cross the street. As I jumped up on the curb, there I was face to face with the most beautiful, blood red hummingbird. It took my breath away as it flitted about in the tree. I was closer than I'd ever been and I stood there watching it longer than I would have thought possible.

Wow. I was totally blown away by the way he chose to reward my faith.

Praise be to God.

The correlation is obvious. Mom want's healing and to have her husband back healthy and whole. But, I told her, if you can ask and petition for that with the overarching prayer to leave it to his timing (because his healing may only take place in the next world), then we will not be disappointed either way. Visually, it's like holding our treasure out with an open palm, hard to do for fear of loss.

The most merciful thing in this case could be to take Richard now. Of course we will all grieve, but trusting Him means we know that the outcome was best for all parties concerned.

And eventually, we will be excited for Richard and his new life with angels, living creatures and Jesus.


John David Ware