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.



Samantha said...

This is beautiful, John. You need to know that Father is so proud of the way you have walked this out. As I said to my Grandmother, as she was dying, "It's hard work to die. It's always hard work to let go ..."

May you and Jackie, and your family know the Father's healing and His nearness.


Laura Burkett said...

Dear John
Another Victory for the Cross. A soul saved from sin and death is released into the loving arm of Jesus and eternal life. May you and your family be comforted at this time know all the promises are true in Christ. What a beautiful story of faith, hope and love. What comfort I am sure you are to your mother. You are in our prayers.
With Love through Christ, Laura Burkett and Skip Jacobson

Lorn said...

My thoughts and prayers continue for you and Jackie and all those who have known Richard.


Troy Gochenour said...

That is an awesome story. What a testament to the love that God has for us. God bless you and your family

Troy Gochenour

Loretta said...

Very beautiful, John. What a meaningful story. I pray for healing for you and your family, especially your mom.

Thanks for all you do for 168.


Anonymous said...

John, I am but a mere 168 film participant. Yet for some reason this story has blessed me beyond measure. i have read your story about the mockingbird and can relate on so many levels. I just had to tell you that your heartfelt, poignant, journal of this gives us great hope in this journey we call LIFE. I applaud you for doing so. Thank you for pouring your heart out on here and for graciously allowing us all to see the side of you that makes me want to follow and be a part of 168 all the more. You are real. And, my friend, that is a very rare commodity in so many circles of film. You are a good son. You obviously are a God-man, and I believe that God is going to openly reward you for being faithful to your family. This is simply a thank you for being courageous enough to encourage so many who have been in the "lows" of life and yet see God's sovereign hand in it all.
May he pour out His grace on your Mom and give you multiplied harvest and joy unexplainable.

Blessings to you,

Amy Denae' Hossler
Southlake, Texas (DFW area)

Dave Sommers said...

John, our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your mother at this time. I appreciate your courage in sharing with us something so personal and painful, yet miraculous. May God fill the void that was left by the passing of your loved one. And may He carry you both when you don't have the strength to continue. Amen.

-Dave Sommers

Giacomo said...

As a man who's sensitive to fathers, I'm truly sorry for your loss. He is indeed in a better place, in the bosom of Abraham.

Be blessed. YHVH is with you and your family now and always!


brodie said...


Great visiting with you yesterday. Hope the funeral service today went well. It is a beautiful story and I am thankful that God gave your family the sign you hoped for. He is kind to us in ways we can only imagine.

God's peace brother.

Don Schaffer said...

John, This is a difficult thing for your family. It is awesome to see your faith demonstrated. God is strong in our weakness. I've prayed for you.

-Don Schaffer