Monday, October 25, 2010

Songs of Life From a Hospital Bed

The following email was written to my step-Mom (Jan) on the day her late husband (my Dad) would have been 85.  Dad died just 6 months ago. Because the story within this email was so powerful, I wanted to share it with others.


How are you?  I almost hesitate to ask. I’ve had a rough week knowing that Dad would have turned 85 today.  I know this must be a million times harder for you.  You are in my prayers a lot Jan.

An interesting thing happened to me today and I think you’ll find it to be an amazing story.

My music partner (Jeanie) and I were asked by the family of a dying Lutheran preacher (Ed) to come to his hospital room and sing songs for him.  At first I said ‘yes’, then I said, ‘no wait a minute, it’s my Dad’s 85th birthday and this is just too sensitive and familiar.” A second later I was saying ‘yes’ again. And 10 minutes later we were sitting on the bed next to Ed the preacher who was pretty much in a coma.  Hospice was there. So were about half a dozen members of Ed’s family.  

At first it was hard. Very hard. Looking at the 82 year-old frail man, hooked up to monitors, was like seeing Dad in his final days.

Jeanie and I started into old hymns.  Ed’s mouth started moving. Our 3rd song was Amazing Grace. Ed started mouthing the words with almost intelligible sounds.  There was no question in my mind that he heard the song and was singing with us. 

As a preacher he had directed church choral groups.  On the next song, Ed’s IV-bruised hand lifted up and began a rhythmic dance of sorts.  Through teary eyes, Jeanie cried, “Look, he’s conducting us.”  I felt the smiling presence of God and His angels. My tears finally stopped about the time Ed’s daughter starting adding a beautiful soprano harmony to our 2 voices.  It was so emotional.  It had turned from sorrowful to loving. Purposeful.  A blessing all around.

The staff and other folks in the hospital kept peeking in from the hall.  I didn’t get the impression they saw much of this kind of thing.  Ed’s family must have thanked us a dozen times.  In the parking lot afterwards the hospice woman came up to us and said, “You two blessed the entire hospital today.”  That was sweet to hear. And I know that the truth is that this is the way God blesses – all around (our job is to say ‘yes’ when we hear His call).

And so, in the end, I realize that this was really a blessing passed on by my Dad to their Dad and his family.  God doesn’t waste our experiences or our pain.  God’s timing – perfect! He is the Master story-maker. Well, I’m crying again.  I miss Dad a lot today.


PS – I think I’m going to cc the family and Jeanie on this email.  I think they’d like that. The blessings just keep going because, “what the Lord blesses, He blesses forever.”
Songs of Life From a Hospital Bed - Part 2
After sending the previous blog (email really) out to my family I was reminded (by my sister) of a very significant related event.  A few weeks before my father died my brother and I went up to visit him. Since we were traveling light our step-brother brought over 2 guitars for us to jam with (perhaps a miracle in and of itself).  We sang and played for Jan and my Dad for over 2 hours after dinner one evening.  Dad said that this was the best he had felt in many weeks.  It really was one of the best times I've ever had with my father.  He even sang! Amazing considering his declining condition.

So therein lies the connection. Music, songs, guitars, family, love, healing, taking time not just say you care but to show you care.  It is no wonder that the experience in the hospital with Ed the preacher triggered so much emotion.  Someone once said, "Where your pain is, therein lies your gift." The gifts God gives us are the magic carpet rides upon which we travel to give to others. Pain is not a worthless emotion. It is more like an experience which teaches us sensitivity to others.  And in that sensitivity we connect with Amazing Grace.