Pray less for me but more for those on the ground and those in the air. If it’s my time, I know where I’m going. Those words were one of the last words I remember my older brother Butch saying during an interview with the reporter. He actually chuckled when asked if he was afraid during a mission he had returned from. He said you’d have to be crazy not to be afraid. He was killed in action a few weeks following his interview. Ironically, he didn’t have to be in the air that day, but he volunteered to fly a reconnaissance mission for one of his men. A sniper killed him that day. However I know he wasn’t afraid and I know where he is today.
We all have infamous dates that our mind may forget, but our heart never does. November 10th is one of those. It is first Butch’s birthday. If he had survived Vietnam , he would turn 72. November 10th also has another meaning. It’s the day my mom decided her future.
Mom had already had a 2nd mastectomy, endured a lung infection that caused the need for multiple biopsies, radical treatment, more weight loss. She was withering away. However she had, after years of being angry and bitter at God for Butch’s death, made peace. Even though she had tubes sticking out of her everywhere, she was radiant. So on this date, after another lung biopsy we received the news. The infection was gone – but- it revealed inoperable lung cancer. The doctor gave her options of chemo and such saying it would give her a few more months. She asked how long she had. “Six months” she just fixed her green eyes on the young doctor’s face and said “I’m ready to go home.” the doctor said he would make arrangements but while in his speal mom interrupted. “young man I do not mean THAT home.” I remember he teared up before speaking again. He asked to speak to Kent and I in private. He said he actually gave her 3 months and that he would make all the arrangements for moving her to hospice. When I returned to my mom’s bedside , she asked me to tell her what the doctor said. I really didn’t want to tell her and upon hearing her response-I definitely did not. She just smiled and said “that’s too long ” . Almost immediately she began planning her funeral -right down to song choice and where her Sunday school would provide a meal. She faced death with confidence because she knew where she was going too. She promised she wouldn’t die during my Finals week at school, but she died the day before. Oh well. I had promised I would carry on in spite of tho circumstances.
Now the night before she passed we had Christmas with her. Her request. She made us exchange gifts, sing songs. Before we left she held me close and whispered to get my rest because I would need it. She also said her last I love you. She slipped into a coma sometime later. The next day I sat by her bed and remembered praying for God to go ahead and take her. I knew she was ready. In fact her official last words were “hurry up!” She was not exactly patient. After her final words, a tranquility enveloped her and I knew her spirit won out while her body remained on auto pilot. Like my brother, Mom wasn’t afraid of death when it was said and done. So think about those words again. Do we live our life on purpose and with confidence? Pray less for me, but more for those in the air and the ground because I know where I’m going. Do you?