Last night I went over to the ICU at St. Joseph's Hospital to visit my neighbor. While the family and I were in Tennessee for the Thanksgiving holiday, he had had a heart attack, died, was brought back by the paramedics, and is now on an artificial respirator and is under heavy sedation. I don't know if he could hear me, but I wanted to at least talk to him and squeeze his hand.
My neighbor, Gene Wasson, is 85 years old. This is a man who retired from the Marine Corps after seeing not just one, but three conflicts, flying in USMC aviation in World War II, Korea, and a tour in Vietnam just before he retired. He and his wife have owned the house next to ours since 1951 and raised their daughters there. Gene is a devout member of the local Presbyterian church in Santa Ana, and his woodworking skills can be seen there, as well as in our home and many of our neighbors' homes. Whenever someone new moved into the immediate neighborhood, they were immediately met by Gene, who invited them over to his house for a pancake breakfast. Our two desert tortoises, Andrew and Maria, are gifts from Gene.
It pained me to see him lying in the hospital bed. There was no DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) authorization and I am not sure this is what Gene would want for his life now. I am told that when he was still conscious, he said he wanted to get out of the hospital and go home. I told him last night that I would pray for him that his own prayers to God are answered, even if those are to take him home, albeit not his earthly one.
My own mother, who is 78 years old, always jokes and says if she has a heart attack, wait 30 minutes before calling the EMTs. When she learned of Gene, she told me quite pointedly that if the same happened to her, and she was "brought back", as it were, she would be - and I quote - "pissed as all hell" at me for letting them do that. Needless to say, I will arrange with her to have her own DNR so there is no doubt. I would miss her terribly - I will miss her terribly - but Mom is adamant that if God is calling, she is going.
Then in court this morning, I learned that a local attorney had died that very morning of a heart attack. He was barely 60, and kept himself in shape with regular exercise. Rick had an acerbic wit and his presence at our legal gatherings will be missed. I thought how unexpected his death was, and I prayed that he was ready or accepting when he realized that it was time.
All of us can take a moment to ask ourselves that same question - are we ready? As Scripture says, we will not know the day nor the hour, but even so, what would it take for us to do a little prep work. On an earthly, mundane level, it's estate planning - maybe writing a will, maybe executing an DNR. On a spiritual level, it's both strengthening our own beliefs that regardless of the end, our trust is in God and moreover, making each day on earth a thanksgiving for the life He has given us, as well as the people in it.
If you have a moment, say a prayer for Gene and Rick, will you?